I have always considered myself a Pan African, but I am slowly disillusioned with this characterisation.
It’s all fine and dandy to believe in the growth and unity of Africans, but what worries me is how pan Africans are willing to excuse the excesses of some African leaders because they are perceived to be champions of Africa.
I cringe when I see the idolisation of someone like Muammar Gaddafi, who for all he supposedly did for Africa, was a monster to his people and actually did more for Europe than for Africa.
For example, Gaddafi was ruthless with migrants trying to cross from his country to Europe, a Trojan horse for the west if you like, but latter day pan Africanists see him as a hero.
Back home, President Robert Mugabe is seen as a champion for African rights, he gives bombastic speeches abroad, but his country is going the opposite direction.
I almost choked on my tea when I read that Zimbabwe was the second poorest country in the world in 2013 only better than the Democratic Republic of Congo.
DRC has been caught up in civil wars for the past 20 odd years and what is our excuse for Zimbabwe being so poor, sanctions.
Sudan has had sanctions, Afghanistan has had a war, Eritrea, South Sudan have all had wars or some form of destabilisation in the past few years, but they are faring far much better than Zimbabwe.
I don’t mind if Mugabe has a go at the west, east or anyone, as long as I can put food on my table and turn on the lights when I want to, but this is a privilege I am increasingly being denied, yet pan Africans see a hero in him.
When a Rwandan official was arrested in the UK, pan Africans quickly said this was an insult to Africa and Africans should rise up, some spoke, others couldn’t be bothered.
Despite wearing my “Pan African” hat, I couldn’t be bothered, talk about term limits in Rwanda and you are told stay out of it, it’s not your country. So we can speak about an arrested Rwandan government official, but not Rwandan presidential term limits?
Kagame has supposedly done well and we can’t begrudge him that, but so have Botswanan leaders, but when their terms are up they leave, and this is an African example.
But a pan Africanist will quickly tell you that Germany, UK blah, blah don’t have term limits in the constitutions.
No they don’t because they didn’t put them there, but African countries did and only want to remove them when it suits the incumbent. How disingenuous.
I guess there are some things we can talk about and others we cannot.
The favourite punching bag for pan Africans is the ICC, justified they might be, but they totally ignore how Africa has been at the forefront of closing avenues for continental justice.
Zimbabwe made sure of the collapse of the regional Sadc tribunal and there is no continental appetite for the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
I am not a fan of the ICC, but does this mean, as Africans, we are averse to justice? We could make a stronger case for withdrawing from the ICC if we had continental justice systems, we don’t and the call for withdrawing sounds hollow and is coming from people who do not want justice.
As one reader aptly put it, the pan Africanism we see is a caricature created by political elites to distract from how they have betrayed and abandoned the hopes and dreams of the movements that put them in power.
I am not convinced on this brand of pan Africanism, it’s as unhelpful as it’s unneeded.