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CELEBRATING AFRICA'S 50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

Source: Swegenyi D.K.S for Humanitas Afrika
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"We prefer self government in danger to servitude in

tranquility" Dr Kwame Nkrumah, founder and first
President of Ghana.
Africa is in celebration mood this year and we at Humanitas

Afrika wish to share our own joy and reflections on this

momentous occasion with you, our friends, supporters, and

indeed the world.
Without hesitation many historians have conferred the year

of African independence on 1960 and with good reason. In

this year a record seventeen African countries (Chad,

Benin, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Central African

Republic, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mauritania,

Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Congo, Gabon,

and Cameroon) achieved independence and took their rightful

places in the commonwealth of free nations. It is the golden

jubilee of these countries in 2010 that has occasioned the

attention and celebrations in Africa.
Prior to 1960 a paltry eight African countries had gained

independence, five of which were North African while only

three were sub-Saharan. Ghana was one of these sub-Saharan

countries, and Liberia notwithstanding; Ghana is reputed,

not only as the first sub-Saharan country to gain
independence, but that its independence helped radicalize

the liberation of the entire continent. Dr Kwame Nkrumah,

who led Ghana into independence, captured the collectivity

of the African liberation struggle when he said "the

independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up

with the total liberation of the African continent".

Dr Nkrumah soon played host to the first Conference of

Independent African States on African soil in April 1958.

This conference was significant in representing "the

collective expression of African People's disgust with

the system of colonialism and imperialism, which brought so

much suffering to African People. Further, it represented

the collective will to see the system of colonialism

permanently done away with" thetalkingdrum.com. In the

same year and soon after the Accra conference Guinea defied

de Gaulle and followed Ghana into independence to be

followed in 1960 by the other seventeen countries. Even as

a numbers game the achievement is phenomenal within such a

spell.
Colonialism and the struggle for independence was in many

ways a shared experience. The colonial masters were

basically of the same breed, driven by the same greed, and

employed the same brutality to subdue the natives, a process

in which the African was cast, perceived and perpetuated as

inferior and undeserving of the dignities that define

humanity. Irrespective of whether the colonial master was

French, English, Belgian, Portuguese or Boer the effects of

their occupation of African lands, their influences on

African populations and the long term psychological trauma

on African peoples varied very little if at all.
But what is there to celebrate about a continent where

starvation, poor infrastructure, corruption, illiteracy,

low life expectancy, frail institutions, and poor
healthcare are still perennial fifty years on? What is

there to celebrate about when our countries cannot prepare

national budgets without foreign aid input, when we cannot

even process, let alone price the produce of our soil, our

natural resources? These are observations that may sound far

fetched, or pandering to a stereotypical Africa, but they

are part of the reality experienced across the continent in

varying measures of severity, and cast a dismal picture of

an Africa in dire straits of everything except anthems and

flags not worth any celebration.
But we celebrate. We celebrate a new Africa "after 500

years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the

rape of Africa and the subsequent slave trade"
thetalkingdrum.com. We celebrate being African, our

identity. We celebrate our heritage, our space that we had

to reclaim by force, already raped and profaned as it may

have been. We celebrate our effort to reconstruct our

culture, for we cannot be a people living on an imposed

culture, a culture not our own. We celebrate the peace and

stability achieved by some of the seventeen African

countries, and the challenges of democracy and good

governance in some others.
We celebrate even as we acknowledge that we are yet to

totally free ourselves from the colonial vestiges that

still enslave us mentally, and from a world economic order

that seeks almost deliberately to tread continually on

Africa. And we celebrate to ask ourselves the hard
questions and prescribe the bitter pills. We celebrate

because it is right to do so, and if anything else, we

celebrate because "we prefer self government in danger to

servitude in tranquility".
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Prepared by Swegenyi D.K.S for Humanitas Afrika