TODAY, 55 member-states of the African Union (formerly Organisation of African Unity), celebrate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the continental bloc.
Fifty-five is a symbolic number in numerology, which stands for unity, the major founding principle of the African Union.
This year’s Africa Day is commemorated under the theme of “Year of Combating Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”
Fighting corruption is a game changer. We have noted with interest that most AU member states have been expressing keenness to combat the cancer of corruption that has affected growth and development and in the process impoverished more than 90 percent of the continent’s billion people.
Notwithstanding the concerted efforts to stamp out corruption in both the public and private sectors, the general perception remains that Africa is not walking the talk.
The major argument advanced on why people believe that most member states are paying lip service to stamping out sleaze, is lack of political will. As the African saying goes, “The roaring lion kills no prey.”
The continent has over the 55-year period lost trillions of dollars that are externalised overseas. Every country is affected, while those fingered walk scot-free. This is cause for concern.
A handful of the member states have designated Africa Day a public holiday, Zimbabwe being one of them. This shows a lack of seriousness about the African Union and what it stands for.
Even in those countries where it has been declared a national holiday, you don’t see clearly spelt-out programmes centred on the day and its significance, being spelt out.
This is a dangerous scenario, which will eventually see people completely forgetting the diverse struggles the continent has fought, to be where it is.
When Barack Obama became president of the United States, our African-American brothers and sisters thought that it was no longer necessary to celebrate Black History Month every February of each year. They thought they had arrived, but the #BlackLivesMatter movement was a pointer that life is a journey.
While all countries have gained political independence, save for those that engage in civil strife, the second generation since the founding of the African Union is facing a myriad of challenges that need to be tackled from a united front.
Chief among these challenges is a growing population that needs jobs, food security, efficient healthcare services, water and sanitation, access to state-of-the-art information and communication services, etc.
Agenda 2063 is the lynchpin to achieve success. President Mnangagwa has pronounced himself very eloquently on some of these issues, the economy in particular.
However, when all is said and done, Africa will not stand if it ignores the principles and values of the founding fathers.
These were leaders who showed bravery — bringing the whole continent together in unity, and fighting the colonialists. The principles they etched should always be revisited and where need be rebranded to suit the Africa we desire. But, they will remain the anchor on which African unity is premised.
Happy Africa Day!