ZITF pan-Africanist pedagogy ignition
The just ended 2017 edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair was spectacular in various ways.
However, guided by my own appreciation of this year’s ZITF, I can out-rightly conclude that the fair was also ideologically enriching in as much as it was commerce inclined as it has always been over the years.
The ideological bearing effect of this fair was pan-African and unfailingly compelling one to have an economic inclined appreciation of what it entails to be an African in this day and age. It is also important to observe that this annual event is hosted during Zimbabwe’s Uhuru month. This coincidentally gives us an opportunity to retrospect how Zimbabwe’s independence has flourished in commerce and trade as key-result areas of national development.
Besides the superlative exhibition stands of local and regional exhibitors, I was particularly moved by the address delivered by the President of the Republic of Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingob at the Zim-Namibia Trade and Investment Business Meeting.
This particular meeting followed the ZITF official opening ceremony which was graced by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde. Robert Mugabe. The Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Phelekezela Mphoko, graced the Zim-Namibia Trade and Investment Business Meeting. For me, it was an honour to witness Cde. Mphoko and Cde.
Geingob’s astute stand on the podium to share their iconic renditions of their commerce inclined loyalty to pan-Africanism.
A gaze at Vice-President Mphoko next to the President of Namibia opened mental pages of our liberation history and how he (Vice-President Mphoko) was a synergy anchor of the armed struggle which gave birth to our Zimbabwe. Those who have an accurate memory account of our struggle and those who were eyewitnesses of the struggle’s unfolding would recall how Vice-President Mphoko directly dealt with other African revolutionaries such as the late Brigadier General Hashim Mbita of Tanzania.
To me, this was delighting as I was physically encountering a process of a contemporary re-writing of an enduring revolutionary cadre’s historical credentials. Moreover, this was also symbolically affirmed by his warm courtesy to the President of Namibia who was the Guest of Honour at this Zimbabwe-Namibia trade dialogue held on Friday.
Above it all, it was a privilege to have a direct encounter with the illustrious combatant persona of Cde Mphoko. More delighting and serenading to this experience was how Vice-President Mphoko gave an impressive articulation of Africa’s need to develop economic militancy through regional trade. Vice-President Mphoko went further to emphasise on the need for Africa to build its economic power through strategic partnerships which replicate the unity of the African people’s quest for decolonisation through constant reference to African value systems underpinned in the discourse of pan-African co-operation.
In fact, President Mphoko’s address was critical as it explicitly outlined how Zimbabwe is open to trade with the world, and Africa in particular.
Rethinking “good governance” tutorship and “rehearsed concerns”
On the other hand, I was particularly moved by issues raised by Namibia’s Head of State, President Hage Geingob, in his keynote address. Dr. Geingob applauded Zimbabwe for rallying behind President Mugabe’s agenda of economic transformation, particularly his marshalling of the Land Reform Programme. Besides his mention of the humbling encounter with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Dr. Geingob gave an articulate address of how Africa must remodel its economic trajectory for sustainable development. President Geingob also emphasised the need for deconstructing the pedagogy of Eurocentricity in defining the frameworks of Africa’s economic development.
President Geingob’s address distinctly paid attention to; how Africa’s development is misguided by grammars of Western thinking, which consequently disaffirm the concept of finding “African solutions for African problems”.
The Namibian Head of State also contested the hypocrisy of regime change agitated advocacy in Africa as he problematised its dramatised mantra of “good governance”. Dr. Geingob challenged this “rehearsed concern” for “good governance” in Africa and described this rhetoric as a creation of a neo-colonial pedagogy, which masquerades as a liberating trajectory for imploring the “third-world” to adhere to human rights and democracy principles.
President Geingob argued that, “the lobby for good governance connotes the presence of bad governance in Africa”. In his perspective, this form of reason represents a neo-colonial intellectual tradition which has been nurtured to demonise the African state as an epitome of bad governance. In our Zimbabwean context, this can be aptly noted in the academic work of post-colonial anti-establishment scholars like Brian Raftopolous, Patrick Bond and Peter Godwin – not to mention some die-hard Rhodesian pseudo economists like Eddy Cross. Cde. Geingob insists that Africa must constantly find value in building structures of “effective governance” other than “good governance” as embedded in Western reason.
Moreover, President Geingob stated that Africa must wake-up from its ideological slumber and fight for its place in the war zone of global economics and all the political realism it embodies, “We must declare a war of socio-economic architecture if global peace has to be achieved in Africa . . .” This recommendation is validated by how Africa has and still is contributing to the global political-economy system and yet, Africa is still impoverished. Sad enough, the looting vanguards of democracy and human-rights are still prospering and nursing the continent’s economic misery through satirically under toned aid systems.
Dr. Geingob went further to emphasise the need for promoting economic equality if all Africans are to enjoy the fruits of their hard earned struggle as he argued that “. . . hungry people are angry people . . . as such, there is need to develop broad base economies than creating billionaires”. To buttress the point, President Geingob alluded to the principle of Harambe, which refers to the Ubuntu principle of “pulling together in one direction”.
The Harambe Spirit presently informs the clarion call of the continent’s pursuit for an integrated approach to development and eradicating the residual effects of the colonial empire.
This is because the continent is engrossed in Afro-pessimism than it is guided by values of Afro-optimism. Having paid attention to this voice of reason, I quizzed myself as to how far Africa has achieved the “Harambe” socio-economic architecture.
While pondering on this dense intellectual rendition by President Geingob, I was involuntary compelled to revisit the Harambe principle as a central theme in Ngugi wa Thiongo’s seminal publication, I Will Marry When I Want. In this prodigious publication, Ngugi dovetails with the Frantz Fanon school of thought which challenges the post-colonial Africa to collectively revisit the pan-Africanist ideology in order to generate a continental socio-political and economic transformation paradigm which will be genuinely liberating to the livelihoods of the people and the “successively historical interests” of African development.
Harambe: Are we pulling together in one direction?
The rise of the African nation (in the Western sense) ushered a normalised and yet irrational political culture of self-centeredness among African countries. This modern political culture defining the African political landscape is sub-dividedly accounted for in modern political theory as African “nationalism” which is connotatively justified by the concept of sovereignty. As a consequence, the communal fraternity of Africa under the banner of Pan-Africanism was curtailed at the final stage of the anti-colonial project.
This challenge owes much to African nationalism’s popularised conceptual starting point as an ethnic charged social contract among geographically bound “natives” and their unity against the colonial establishment. Unitary founding principles of the nation’s birth became a thing of yesterday after independence. This is why after the attainment of Africa’s political independence all the prospects of collective development envisioned icons like Nkrumah were ditched for “nationalism”.
This is because the nation was formed (an institution that gains monopoly by force) to safeguard realism because the concept of realism advocates for self-interest. In realist terms, common value does not exist; each state is concerned about consolidating its power.
This implies that the strength of oneness in fighting the enemy faded at that moment when Africa had to rebuild the ruins of colonialism. As a result, political realism has made the state to pose as a primary stumbling block to the livelihood of Pan-Africanism.
As such, the African state has been made prisoner to guarding geographical boundary custodianship. Therefore, the unifying value of pan-Africanism is treated as demerit since it threatens the individual power of the state. This substantiates Africa’s state of crisis and the only way out is unity.
Harambe is what Africa needs. As such, the African scholar has no option, but to lobby for the rewriting of the future in pan-African terms.
Nkosi sikelela iAfrica.