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Sub-Thematic Areas

THE COMMEMORATION - SUB-THEMATIC AREAS

In light of the above, the 60th anniversary commemoration is organized around a number of sub-thematic areas. The sub-themes are selected to take account of the unequal power relations that continue to shape Africa’s position in the world, as well as sites of struggle for a new Africa, all reflecting what is considered the unfinished business of the First All-African Peoples' Conference.

1. Peoples of Africa

This sub-theme comprises three significant interrelated areas that reflect the territorial diversity, the youth question and labour conditions of the peoples of Africa. These organic classifications are: Global Africa, Demographic shifts and Struggles of working peoples.

Global Africa - The concept of Global Africa is a call for recognition of unity in diversity of all people of Africa and of African descent. The concept contends that Africans at home and dispersed outside of Africa (usually called the Diaspora) constitute one family. The AU has now designated those living outside of Africa as constituting the sixth region of the African Union. The Global Africa idea advocates for the recognition that Africans and peoples of African descent in any part of the world share the common historical and social experiences that shape the consciousness of Pan-Africanism. Historical crimes against humanity such as enslavement, colonialism, apartheid, have served to sharpen the Pan-African consciousness and shaped the formation of organs such as the Organization of African Unity and, later, the African Union.  As Walter Rodney had affirmed at the time of the Sixth Pan-African Congress, ‘One of the cardinal principles of Pan-Africanism is that the people of one part of Africa are responsible for the freedom of their brothers and sisters of Africa; and indeed black people everywhere should accept the same responsibility. ‘

The question here is to bring back the kind of information sharing and solidarity that had inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after his participation in the Independence Day celebrations in Ghana in 1957.

Demographic shifts - The discussion of demographic shifts focuses on the fact that for the first time since the trans-Atlantic slave trade the African population is growing. The projections are that in the next thirty years there will be 2.4 billion Africans, a figure estimated to reach 4.1 billion by 2100. Importantly, it is estimated that the population below age 15 will constitute 44% and that of ages 15-29 will be 30 % of the total population of Africa by 2050. The growth of the African population in Latin America will be equally significant. At the same time in Europe and Japan, unlike in Africa, the indigenous population will decline with the ratio of old persons to working age persons skewed in favour of the aged. The crucial question is how to optimize the demographic dividend of Africa’s youthful population?  Related to the optimisation of this youth bulge, is how to create and instil progressive consciousness and competitiveness in the youth.   

Struggles of working people - The working peoples of Africa consist of the mass of poor peasants, the working class and the cultural workers who are all caught in the web of precariat labour. Capitalism has intensified the exploitation of black workers. There is the need to grasp the state of workers and peasant struggles to address the land and labour questions of Global Africa and how to energise these struggles. The need for independent organizations among these sufferers has been intensified by the ways in which neo-liberal policies have strengthened the military and police forces.

2. Neo-colonialism & Imperialism

In the introduction to the book, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965), Kwame Nkrumah wrote:

The neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in its final and perhaps most dangerous stage. In the past it was possible to convert a country upon which a neo-colonial regime had been imposed into a colonial territory. Today, this process is no longer feasible. Old fashioned colonialism is by no means entirely abolished . . .  Once a country has become nominally independent it is no longer possible, as it was in the last century, to reverse the process. Existing colonies may linger on, but no new colonies will be created. In place of colonialism as the main instrument of imperialism we have today neo-colonialism. The essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality, its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside. Today imperialism has taken new forms but with the dominance of finance capital still manifest with the overarching power of the Bretton Woods institutions.

Clearly, the adverse incorporation of the African economies into the neo-colonial and imperialist global capitalist institutionalised architecture has constrained Africa’s trade, production, finance, technological and investment competitiveness.  One of the key effects is the vertiginous debt burden of the continent.

The Debt Burden - The nature of Africa’s integration into the current international system ensures that Africa is a price taker. In short, Africans produce and export primary products and generally import industrial products. Prices are generally set by “international market forces”, totally dominated by players in the major industrial states; hence, Africa is perennially unable to meet its obligations and continues to borrow to carry out the normal functions of the state and social reproduction.  Balance of payments deficits ensure that African governments must finance state expenditure through external borrowing. While the imperial countries, such as members of the European Union, Japan and the USA, use the expedient of printing money under the banner of quantitative easing, African states are burdened with odious debts. By the end of 2017 the Jubilee Debt Campaign noted that 28 countries in Africa were in debt distress. Intellectual subservience on the part of most African economists prevents them from raising questions about the undemocratic nature of the operations of the Bretton Woods institutions. Alongside this egregious financial vulnerability of the Pan-African world, is the ongoing manipulative and exploitative capitalist process of accumulation by dispossession of African lands. Moreover, the development of the illicit global economy ensures that billions are siphoned out of Africa. At a minimum, there is need for popular awareness on how to curb illicit financial flows.

3. African Union and Agenda 2063

The African Union has tasked itself with the unification of Africa by 2063. The vision of the AU is to strive for ‘an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena’. Agenda 2063 provides the strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of Africa over the next forty-five years. This plan, with its seven clearly defined aspirations, builds on and seeks to accelerate the implementation of existing and past continental initiatives for the full unification of the peoples of Africa. Western formations are working hard to deflect real understanding of Agenda 2063 by intense focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is, therefore, a crucial need to foreground the vital importance and urgency of the pursuit of Pan-Africanism and mobilization of the human capital of the African Intelligentsia as a stratagem for continental emancipation. The current leadership must be forced to build the infrastructural basis for a common currency, common military policy or be removed. The timidity that has been exposed in the framing of the African Continental Free Trade Area demonstrates that progressives must continue to promote the free movement of African peoples across Africa. African must oppose restrictive immigration practices whether at home or abroad.

Pan-Africanism Today - African descendants outside the continent – in the so called African Diaspora -engage in struggles aimed at transforming the world around them to better serve Africans and humanity at large. Implicit in all Pan-African struggles today is the drive for the full liberation and unification of Africa and an end to racist exploitation.

The African Intelligentsia - This refers to the body of critical literate Africans who produce ideas about the world in which they live and are not subservient to imperialist Western epistemic orthodoxy. In the case of the progressive African intelligentsia, they seek to ground their concerns in the issues of the full emancipation of the people and work to decolonize the mind. These intellectuals are engaged in holding the line against brain hacking.

4. Emancipation of women

The struggle by women to end all forms of oppression is multifaceted, challenging basic assumptions about contemporary forms of social life. Capitalist exploitation has intensified the oppression of black women, so that the emancipation of the African women involves struggles on four fronts, against exploitation of labour power; patriarchal dominance; racial exploitation; and sexual oppression. Within the Pan-African world African women face the additional burden of the denial by many Pan-Africanists of the realities of gender oppression. The major question will be to strengthen the linkages among those organizing against all forms of patriarchy, sexism and deformed masculinity.

5. Reparations and Restorative Justice

For African descendants of the Global African family, the burning question of the crimes of the trans-Atlantic slave trade remains a key issue of international politics. African descendants have been at the forefront of the Third World Conference against Racism (WCAR). In these meetings, held since 2001, the push has been for recognition that the slave trade and slavery constituted crimes against humanity. Reparation, in this instance, is the action of making amends for a wrong done, by providing payment or other assistance to those who have been wronged. Restorative justice calls for the acknowledgement of the past crimes to see how these crimes influence current behaviour, such as the rise of white racism and imperial chauvinism in the current period. One major challenge among Pan-Africanists is to end the silencing of the demands for reparations that is now going on in official circles in Africa.

6. Global Warming

There is evidence that Africa is suffering disproportionately from Global warming, i.e., the increase in the earth's atmospheric and oceanic temperatures widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect - with the rise in temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius registering as 3.6 to 4 degrees in Africa. Satellite imagery has projected an expansion of the Sahara and Kalahari deserts if there are no drastic measures to reverse global warming. Additionally, Africa is suffering at several domains of the nine planetary boundaries, namely, stratospheric ozone depletion; climate change; change in bio-sphere integrity; ocean acidification; biogeochemical flows (phosphorous and nitrogen cycles), land system change; and freshwater use. The challenge is to promote basic literacy on these questions as a prelude to action.

CONCLUSION

It is expected that the political, intellectual and cultural engagement over the course of the Commemoration will provide a platform for drawing from the spirit and ethos of the First All-African Peoples' Conference inspiration and a drive towards the completion of the mission and tasks of that pivotal event in the history of Africa.