Africa Liberation Day: The Maze of Contradictions

Leonida Odongo
Posted June 4, 2020 from Kenya

 

Africa Liberation Day is celebrated annually every 25th May. The day commemorates when the Organisation of African Union (OAU) was formed in 1963.Each year a different theme is set, for example the 2020 theme as set by the African Union is “Silencing The Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the Fight against COVID-19 Pandemic.

As a continent, Africa is celebrated as a continent with vast amounts of natural resources. South Africa for example has reserves of gold, deposits of copper, manganese, diamonds and is also the world’s second largest producer of palladium[1].In 2018 for example, South Africa’s total diamond sales was Rand 17 billion(R17).[2] Botswana is home to the world’s largest and most beautiful diamonds which include the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona. From 1971 , Botswana has produced over 728 million carats of rough diamonds[3] In the East  part of Africa , Tanzania has deposits of gold, iron ore, nickel, copper, cobalt and silver, industrial minerals such as diamond, tanzanite, ruby, garnet , limestone, soda ash , salt and gypsum , the country further has fuel minerals consisting of coal and uranium[4].In Central Africa region, the Democratic Republic of Congo has abundant deposits of coltan, oil, cobalt, diamonds and gold among others, but sadly the country despite its richness has a huge number of Congolese citizens poor and others are refugee in various refugee camps across different countries.

Minerals available in Kenya include gold, zinc, copper, coal, soda ash, fluorspar, diatomite, ruby, oil and titanium among others. In addition, the country has a conductive environment for crop production, producing tea and coffee. The country is also a major exporter of horticultural products grown in Naivasha. Kenya further exports salt to other countries in addition to being a major exporter of cut flower. About 38% of all cut flower imports into the EU comes from Kenya. The main European Union markets are Holland, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Switzerland[5].According to Horticultural Crop Directorate (HCD) provisional statistics in 2017, the floriculture industry earned Kenya Shillings 82.25 billion[6].In the West Africa region, about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans come from four countries namely Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Ivory Coast and Ghana are the world’s largest producers of cocoa accounting for over 50 percent of the world’s cocoa[7].Furthermore, new natural resources being discovered such as oil and gas across African countries such as Kenya and Uganda have the potential of economically transforming and developing African countries.

 

Africa Liberation Day is a day celebrated annually to commemorate liberation from the colonialists. Africa Liberation Day is also used to celebrate the continent’s determination towards unity of the African people and socio-economic freedom from foreign domination and exploitation. Sadly, many African countries despite enormous deposits of natural resources, vast tracts of fertile land, ordinary Africans continue to suffer day in day out furthermore, Africa has a large number of her citizens as refugees in various countries both within Africa and other continents.Ethiopia for example hosts nearly 740,000 refugees, mostly from Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan, the largest refugee population in a single African country. [8]

In the Central African Republic, clashes among rival groups have forced thousands to flee their homes. In Nigeria, more than 2 million people have been forcibly displaced, including the 1.87 million who have fled from the militant group Boko Haram’s violence since 2014. Some 195,350 people have sought refuge in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.[9] Over the last 30 years, hundreds of thousands of people have fled Somalia because of political instability and a dangerous civil war that broke out in the 1990s. Today over 750,000 Somali refugees remain in neighbouring countries and over 2.6 million Somalis are internally displaced in Somalia.[10]

Africa’s problems stem from bad governance, coupled with corruption, nepotism and high doses of tribalism. In leadership, leaders in many countries are not voted based on values but voted on the basis of the handouts they give to citizens come electioneering years.

For women, in an ideal situation, liberation would mean being able to go to a hospital and getting medical attention in the shortest time possible, liberation is having access to education and not having families choose who transits to secondary school when two children a male and a female have both passed their end of primary school exams. Real liberation is when pregnant women do not die on the way to hospital either because the hospital is too far. Liberation is when once a woman finishes her education, she is not coerced into sexual favours in the workplace to get a job, but her excelling certificates are an assurance that she can do the job.

Real liberation and freedom of oppression is not when violence is the order of the day after every five years of elections, where women are left wailing over the death of their husbands as victims of post-electoral violence, where mothers mourn their sons who got murdered due to civil strife brought about by expressing one’s democratic right through a vote.

True liberation is when women get paid equal to the men for the same work done, oppression on the other hand is when women’s ability to work is equated with the many days they will be absent from work, taking children to school or on maternity leave. Visible liberation is when housing problems are addressed women and their households live in clean, affordable houses where they do not have to pay for toilets or where they are not rendered widowed when husbands get killed on their way to the toilet because in informal settlements the distance between your house and the toilet can determine whether you get raped or are alive tomorrow.

Non-oppression is where women do not live in deplorable conditions, playing hide and seek with the municipal and city council as the women try to sell their wares in the city centre to eke out a living for their children. Liberation is when women presenting themselves for electoral posts are not asked where their husbands are and are not judged on the basis of stability of their family but on the ability to deliver what a party’s manifesto has. For women trying to get into politics, many give up halfway either because of pressures of smear campaigns or intimidation or the lack of financial muscle to mount successful elections. Fairness is when women working in flower farms do not have to have transactional sex in exchange for promotion, it is when they get paid well , after all , don’t flowers earn so much foreign exchange?.True liberation is when African sons and daughters do not become victims of human trafficking  and economic refugees, having to cross perilous borders and rough seas to greener pastures when their home countries have vast riches .

In times of emergence of pandemics, women are the caregivers, provide food and are the pillars when households unravel due to stresses caused by a tiny virus that we cannot see, but that has brought the world to a standstill and an uncertain future that beckons.

It is about time to re-think what real liberation is. True liberation of the African continent will only come by when leaders shift from being self centred and become genuinely interested in the welfare and development of their territories and their people. Real liberation will be when African leaders have the muscle to negotiate not on personal interests but on the interest of their citizenry and how to carve better lives for their citizens. Liberation is when women and girls get the respect they deserve and have access to opportunities and can make decisions . It is when governments develop their existing natural resources for the betterment of the lives of ordinary citizens, inter and intra community conflicts are amicable settled with communities thriving under foundations that place humanity at the centre. Only then will Africa talk of liberation and freedom from oppression. African leaders, it is time to remove the blinkers and see what real liberation is because what Africa is today is a far cry from the vision of the founding fathers of the continent.

                                                                             Afrika Moja! Afrika Huru!

 

[1] https://www.gov.za/about-sa/minerals

[2] ibid

[3] https://www.diamondsdogood.com/diamonds-transform-botswana-empower-youth/

[4] https://www.tanzaniainvest.com/mining

[5] http://kenyaflowercouncil.org/?page_id=94

[6] ibid

[7] https://www.statista.com/statistics/263855/cocoa-bean-production-worldwide-by-region/

[8] https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/december-2016-march-2017/africa-most-affected-refugee-crisis

[9] ibid

[10] https://www.unrefugees.org/news/somalia-refugee-crisis-explained/

 

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Jun 05
Jun 05

Hello Leonida,

How are you doing, dear? Thanks for sharing your sad, but informative and compelling account, and plea, for the real liberation of all African nations. I couldn't agree more.

XX

Leonida Odongo
Jun 06
Jun 06

Dear Jill,

I'm fine .The African situation is disturbing.

Jill Langhus
Jun 08
Jun 08

Good to hear:-) Yes, it is.

EmilyLin
Jun 05
Jun 05

Hi Leonida!
Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you so much for sharing this informative message and giving people not from an African country the opportunity to learn more about social issues in Africa. I love how you say true liberation includes gender equality. It should be a fact everyone should acknowledge.

Leonida Odongo
Jun 06
Jun 06

Hi Emily,
Thank you for reading the article.Africa's problem is also compounded by deep seated patriarchy.

Chi8629
Jun 07
Jun 07

Thank you for sharing.

Anita Shrestha
Jun 09
Jun 09

Thank you for sharing

Leonida Odongo
Jun 11
Jun 11

Dear Anita ,

You are most welcome sister.

Hello, Leonida,

Thank you for sharing this information about Africa with us. Your voice is so strong and powerful as always. May Africa find its real liberation because it's about time. Please keep writing so we can hear the voice of Africa.

Leonida Odongo
Jun 11
Jun 11

Dear Karen,

Thank you for the comments.My continent has contradictions that should end .I will keep on writing and sharing.