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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Columnist: Ablakwa, Samuel Okudzeto

Libyan Reflections: The Pride of Ghanaians and ...

the Fears of a Brotherless Brother Muammar Al Gaddafi

It is 9:45am in The Tourist Village Janzour in Tripoli, Libya. The date is Saturday 23rd June 2007. The Ghanaian delegation is departing to Accra some 8 hours from now and instead of a protracted rest that has the tendency of becoming boring, I decide to pen down what has been a very historic and interesting conference.

Activists African Meeting

The “Activists African Meeting” was called at the instance of the People and Government of the Great Libyan Arab Jamahiriya under the patronage of leader Brother Muammar Al Gaddafi.

The meetings were held on the 20th and 21st of June, 2007 in The People’s Hall, Tripoli. It brought together an estimated 1,200 participants from the African Continent including Members of Parliament, Civil Society Groups, Youth Leaders, Women Leaders, Non Governmental Organizations, Trade Unionists, Media Practitioners and Activists committed to African unification. Organized groups of Africans in the Diaspora especially in the European Union and the United States of America were also present.

The theme of the two-day conference was “Activists African Meeting for Construction of the African Federal Government.

It was impressive to observe that Ghana’s delegation cut across board and included CPP Chairman, Dr. Edmund Delle, PNC Leader, Dr. Edward Mahama, Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament and NPP MP, Hon. Kwame Frimpong, CPP MP, Hon. Kojo Armah, Deputy Secretary General of the All Africa Students’ Union (AASU), Ibrahim Murtala, Youth and Women Advocates, Religious Leaders and the Ghanaian Press

It is important to note that from my interaction with delegates, a similar trend emerged from all the countries and it must be said that some countries even had their Foreign Ministers and other high ranking Government officials amongst their delegations. In this vein, I recall my interactions with the President of the Liberian Senate, the Senegalese Foreign Minister and the Leader of the Socialist Arab Party of Egypt.

The Pride of Ghanaians and shall it be maintained?

It was a absolutely a fantastic feeling listening to speaker upon speaker throughout the conference pay glowing homage to Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for conceiving the African Union agenda and the relentless efforts of him and the good people of Ghana in trying to achieve this objective.

At the Opening Session, a Libyan scholar spent some 35 minutes recounting the struggles and toils of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah during the period he conceived and propagated African unity in the form of a United States of Africa. He further recounted similar conferences by Nkrumah in 1958 and 1963 which sowed the seed of African unity.

After him, the Senegalese Foreign Minister, who brought President’s Abdulai Wade’s felicitations and support for the African Union Government agenda, couldn’t stop there but spend the remaining 70% of his time eulogizing Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the pioneering role of the people of Ghana and remarked, “if only Africa had listened to Nkrumah and Ghana at the time.”

Clearly, with this kind of positive focus on Nkrumah and Ghana, it was not surprising that every Ghanaian at the conference was a “hot cake” as many people wanted to either talk with the Ghanaians or take pictures with us.

However, most importantly, they wanted to know Ghana’s position on the current wake-up call and whether back home the Government and people of Ghana were fascinated and expectant of a United States of Africa, especially, when fate will have it that the same soil upon which this struggle was conceived and launched, will be the same soil upon which the United States of Africa must be delivered or must be aborted.

It was obvious these enquiries, did not elicit the same feeling of pride and confidence that the earlier historic facts did.

Considering that Ghana is loosing her touch-bearer role, the question therefore is, would Ghana remain relevant in the revived African quest, or shall we be left behind as mere historic relics?

The decision shall be the responsibility of the Ghanaian Government and people to make, and as we ponder over this, may be Resolution (2) of the Tripoli Declaration may guide us:

“The Accra Summit which is being held on the anniversary of an African Country’s independence, and on an African land that witnessed a long and painful struggle by its sons led by the African fighter Nkrumah for the sake of Africa’s freedom, independence and unity, must reflect in its results the loyalty and sincerity of Africans to those sacrifices and struggles. It should respond to the demands of Kwame Nkrumah for African unity and integration through an effective executive mechanism within the framework of the African Union that bolsters its prestige and turns it as well as its institutions into an efficient and effective instrument capable of implementing the social, economic, educational, and cultural policies, plans and programmes which would lead to the Continent’s integration, something that would be attained through the establishment of a Federal African Government.”

Fears of a Brotherless Brother Muammar Al Gaddafi

In his speech to the conference that lasted some 43 minutes, Brother Muammar Al Gaddafi took his time to express himself in the clearest possible terms for all to understand.

He stated:

i) “Our will defies our critics”

ii) “Activists and African Societies have shown they are ready”

iii) “We will confront our opponents with such popular meetings so they will have no justification to block such unity”

iv) “The Commission of AU is powerless, we don’t even know our Commission Members but who doesn’t know Condoleezza Rice?”

v) The Accra Session should come out with the will of hundreds of millions of the African people and not the tens of leaders”

Speaking further, Gaddafi tore the arguments of the opponents of an African Federal Government into shreds. He also lists the proposals of the Gradualists amongst them being the need to strengthen Regional Blocs first, the need to strengthen the Secretariat of the AU Commission first and the need to find solutions to the raging conflicts on the continent as all being mere excuses and a hypocritical way of opposing an African Federal Government.

Gaddafi then asks; when will Regional Blocs be strengthened? When will all these Regional Blocs then come together? And when will all the Conflicts on the Continent be over?

Gaddafi then proffers that “we must uncover the plans of the opponents of an African Federal Government of African unity and what their real agenda is.”

During Gaddafi’s frank address, I made observations that were quite striking: First of all, one realizes that he feels he is alone amongst his peers in this African Unity crusade and that the few peers of his who even offer support are only playing lip service. This feeling of his has been common knowledge in recent times; that there is lack of commitment from his peers, is merely to state the obvious. Ironically therefore, within his peers, Brother Gaddafi is unfortunately brother less.

Secondly, one could easily observe a fear in Gaddafi’s eyes during his address and this fear is that all his expenditure, efforts and energy on this African Unity Agenda might just come to naught as it happened to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This is how his fear is verbally captured- “we don’t want unity in name like they did to Nkrumah in OAU, we want unity in content.”

Miscellaneous

I was in the middle of two interesting developments during the conference that I consider quite important to share:

Nkrumahists

Participating in the conference were the first sons of Patrice Lumumba and Julius Nyerere both of whom bare the same names of their great fathers.(By the way, strikingly, I observed that they had both started getting gray and I wondered how really long it has taken us as Africans to fulfill the struggles of their fathers)

Dr. Edmund Delle knowing that I had met both sons at an earlier conference, called me during a coffee break to give his complimentary cards to Patrice and Julius so they can keep in touch considering that their fathers were compatriots with Nkrumah.

I found Patrice Lumumba in the lobby and presented Dr. Delle’s card. Patrice was excited and told me he has already spoken to the Nkrumahist leader the night before and then added that if he is around, he would love to speak with him again. I then fetched Dr. Delle and to Patrice’s surprise this was a different Nkrumahist leader. Dr. Delle had to be quick to solve Patrice’s confusion by informing him that that must have been Dr. Edward Mahama and that they are both Nkrumahist leaders.

Patrice looking worried, then asked, “Why can’t you all come together under one party?” Dr, Delle then answered, “we are working on it.” My only humble admonishing to my Nkrumahists friends is that they should expedite action on their unity for ironically at the time we are celebrating Nkrumah’s African unity conception, his own family in Ghana cannot afford to be disunited!

Language

Though the question of language has been made a thorny issue by the opponents of an African Federal Government of African unity, I was impressed with the way all Portuguese, English, French, Arabic and Swahili speaking Africans communicated.

During a lunch break, I was hit by shouts of “Sorry!” “Sorry!!” “Sorry!!!” I turned, only to find out that I had been mistakenly stepping on the toes of a presumably East African delegate. I should have been saying sorry but since he had said many of them already, I could only add “am” to mine – “am sorry, am very sorry.”

Within that same break, finding my way out of the dining room, amongst the thick crowd I heard screams of “squeeze me!” “Squeeze me!!” “Squeeze me!!!” At this point what was going through my mind was that I thought we were already very tight in here and were by default squeezing each other and who on earth wants more of this.

I was to soon find out that this African of Arab origin wanted to get out faster than everybody and rather meant “excuse me” so he could achieve his target and not “squeeze me” as he sounded.

I then had to conclude from these experiences that there is no doubt that Africans can co-exist in a borderless single mass under a federal government for I do not see how different that will be from our nations which are in themselves a microcosm of multiple ethnic groups.

I will end my Libyan reflections with an earlier call I made almost a month ago – African Unity is not wishful thinking, it is a necessity!



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