African Renaissance and Pan-Africanism, a shared value and identity among African nationals.

Author:Oginni, Oyewole Simon


The pedigree of reawakening, regeneration, reconstruction, revitalization and reengineering of Africa's shared values and identity has dominated the policy agenda of Africa in the 21st century. Over decades, Pan-Africanism has been conceived as a viable instrument and ideology of political liberation while African Renaissance (a shared vision for the renewal of Africa, defined as the furtherance of Pan-Africanism within a global context) has recently emerged as a modern philosophy aimed at liberating African people from hyper-spiritual and mental colonization, and a hangover influence and hypnotic control, generally called neo-colonization. Given that African people have long suffered from anti-humanism, deprivations, dominations, suppressions and lynches, it is unfortunate that the political independence of Africa has not brought far-reaching improvement to its citizens' well-being since 1960. In this, Brune (2014:3) expresses the concerns the renowned Pan-Africanist and first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah as follows:

"Africa is a paradox which illustrates and highlights neo-colonialism. Her earth is rich, yet the products that come from above and below the soil continue to enrich, not Africans predominantly, but groups and individuals who operate to Africa's impoverishment."

Paradoxically, Africa has been granted political independence but its economic, social and political conditions remain unpredictable. Besides significant records of intra-state conflicts, civil wars, coup d'etat, fundamental abuse of human rights and dignity that have become characteristics of most African states since independence, the unfortunate paternalistic relationship still maintained by some colonial masters remain a torn in the flesh of African people (Ikome, 2012). Clearly, Nnamdi Azikwe [one of the renowned traditional Pan-Africanists] in his speech at the Organization of African Unity in 1964 entitled "The Future of Pan Africanism", raised noticeable concerns on the paternalistic roles of the former colonial rulers in Africa. According to Azikwe, . one of the problems of African unity is the 'vestigial attachments ' of African States with their former colonial rulers. These attachments are so deep-rooted that they affect the whole personalities of these budding political personalities" (Langley, 1979). The 'political personalities' expressed by Azikwe implies 'humanism towards a united Africa'. Has Pan-Africanism influenced the deadlock paternalistic roles of the former colonial rulers in post-colonial Africa?

Absolutely, even till today, a number of formerly colonized African states under French government are obliged to pay for infrastructures built during colonial period in Africa in the form of a tax (World Bulletin, 14th January, 2015). Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are mandated to pay 85% of their foreign reserve into the France Central Bank under the French Minister of Finance control since, 1961 (Koutonin, 2014).

Besides deep-rooted paternalistic roles of the former colonial rulers in post-colonial Africa [which Nnamdi Azikwe called vestigial attachment], the emergence of globalization characterized by technology innovation and economic globalization, and the uncontrollably threats from undesirable non-state actors (terrorists) in Africa have formed a raison d'etre for the reevaluation of African Renaissance in relation to share values and identity that Pan-Africanism preaches.

Evidently, the post-cold war era has witnessed an internet technology explosion that reshaped economic, social, political and cultural landscapes across the world; redefined geographical interconnectedness and reinforced hyper-globalization. Thus, African Renaissance resurfaced in an era when globalization has become a 'soft instrument' being adopted to promote a capitalist slave-driven economy (neocolonialism). Added to this is the increased activities of undesirable non-state actors (terrorists), which have claimed sizable numbers of lives in Nigeria, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Egypt, Somalia, and the reoccurrence of xenophobia in South Africa in 2015 (Behr & Jokela, 2015; Institute for Peace and Economic, 2015; Oginni, 2015).

Consequently, in the light of the aforementioned phenomenon of post-colonial Africa, there is a greater need to reevaluate the construction and branding of Pan-Africanism and Africa renaissance ideology in terms of democratization, good governance, respect for human rights and sustainable development. While the two concepts reflect Africa's aspirations, creative and responsive ideology towards the rebirth, revitalization and reconstruction of shared values, identity and common destiny, a proper understanding of Africa's dynamics with a view to overcome the challenges founded in the concepts. Specifically, Africa Renaissance seeks to rewrite Africa's history from being followers to becoming a powerful geo-political force in world affairs while Pan-Africanism attempts to remove the derogatory footprints of colonialism on Africa's soil through economic and political unity and emancipation.

Intuitively, the acceptance level of Africa's shared values and identity among African people influences the proper applicability of African Renaissance and the ideology of Pan-Africanism. However, prior to a desirable level of acceptance of the concepts, there must have existed acceptable levels of awareness among African nationals and thought their leadership. Therefore, this study investigates level of awareness of African Renaissance (the shared vision for the renewal of Africa, defined as the furtherance of Pan-Africanism within a global context) and Pan-Africanism among African nationals and thought leaders. In order to achieve this, we clarify ambiguity surrounding the intercourse of Pan-Africanism, globalization and Africa renaissance and thereafter, explore descriptive statistics to analyze the perceptions of African nationals.

The Conceptualization of African Renaissance and Pan-Africanism

The concepts of 'Pan-Africanism' and 'African Renaissance' have been constantly used among African scholars and political activists to portray condemnation against domination, suppression, enslavement, and anti-humanism. Several linguistic terms such as political liberation and sovereignty, Africa's rebirth, regeneration, reconstruction, revitalization and reengineering have been adopted among African thought leaders to evidence attempts to regain Africa's values and identity on the global scene. Hence, does Pan-Africanism, as an ideology of the revolutionary movement, still have the same content in the 21st century as it had in 1960, as captured by Kwame Nkrumah, a question he answered via?:

"No independent African state today by itself has a chance to follow an independent course of economic development, and many of us who have tried to do this have been almost ruined or have had to return to the fold of the former colonial rulers. This position will not change unless we have a unified policy working at the continental level" (Nkrumah, 1963).

In the past five decades, the concepts of 'political liberation' and 'Africans for Africans' were the most enchanted words to portray the philosophy of Pan-Africanism. Though Pan- Africanism received vigorous supports and enjoyed popularity among African nationals throughout 20th century, the failure of political independence to automate economic independence and peaceful co-existence in most African countries seemed to have influenced the level of popularity of the ideology in recent times. Expanding the paradoxical situation, a great number of African leaders since independence, have portrayed themselves as the new 'slave-masters' and colonizers of their own people. Besides the reality that 'physical' imperialism has been globally condemned, the emergence of globalization, climate change, transformation of OAU to AU in 2002, the multipolar world order (evolving neo-geopolitics and neo-geo-economics) and the increased threats from undesirable non-state actors (terrorists) suggests that Pan-Africanism needs a redefinition.

Geiss (1976) classifies Pan-Africanism into two broad categories: an ideology that recognizes the African and Afro-American intelligentsia as homogenous and thus, it promotes racial solidarity based on a new self-awareness; and (2) an ideology that promotes cultural unity and political independence of Africa based on an equality of rights. According to the African Union Echo (2013), Pan-Africanism is "an ideology and movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide." It is predicated on the philosophy that unity is crucial to achieve economic, social and political emancipation in Africa and beyond. Based on the African Union definition of Pan-Africanism, success of all Africa states lies on proper awareness and recognition of Africa's shared values, culture, beliefs, origin and common destiny. It also means that all African states should unite to approach and voice problems common to them (such as political instability, extreme poverty, unemployment, neocolonialism, etc.).

For example, frequent attacks by terrorists in Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia are by virtue of...

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