By Takudzwanashe Mundenga
Black Twitter is fuming and a petition carrying over 60 000 signatures, entitled: Reinstate African Union Ambassador Chihombori-Quao is demanding the return of the permanent ambassador of the African Union to the United States whom the African Union Commission President, Moussa Faki Mahamat fired over her disapproval of the French constant expansionism in West Africa.
It is quite lamentable that those who take a bold stand for justice for the African continent are either quarantined, murdered or muzzled before their voices could be heard. The dismissal of the Zimbabwean international, Arikana Chihombori-Quao after she condemned French continued exploitation of former colonies is appalling, disappointing and shameful.
The French exploitation of former colonies in Africa is widely known and noted to the extent that it being mentioned should not cause discomfort in any circles of power. In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac suggested that without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of third world power. Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand had already forecasted in 1957 that: “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century.”
France has been holding the national reserves of fourteen 14 countries since 1961: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. The monetary policy governing such a diverse aggregation of countries is operated by the French Treasury.
Under the terms of the agreement which set up the central banks of the mentioned countries and the West African CFA franc, the Central Bank of each African country is obliged to keep at least 65% of its foreign exchange reserves in an “operations account” held at the French Treasury, as well as another 20% to cover financial liabilities. It’s now estimated that France is holding close to $500 billion African countries money in its treasury, and would do anything to silence anyone who wants to expose this dark side of the old empire.
Chihombori-Quao is definitely not the first nor the last to get punished for sharing her honest and truthful views on the neo-capitalist Western-sponsored underdevelopment of Sub-Saharan Africa. Thomas Sankara – the founding president of Burkina Faso tried to liberate his country from Western influence and he was assassinated. He refused aid packages from the International Monetary Fund because they came with strings attached.
Sankara famously asserted, “The one who feeds you usually imposes his will upon you.” At the summit of the Organisation of African Unity in July 1987, he tried to persuade other African countries to collectively refuse to pay their financial debts to their former colonisers. “The origins of debt go back to colonialism’s origins,” he said, his voice punctuated with emotion. “We cannot repay the debt because we are not responsible for this debt. On the contrary, others owe us something that no money can pay for. That is to say, the debt of blood.”
One of the core objectives of the African Union – the successor organisation of the OAU, encapsulated in the African Union Constitutive Act, emphasizes its position on eradicating all forms of colonialism. It clearly states that its purpose is, “To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of its member states.” However, the apparent grounds of termination on Chihombori-Quao’s appointment are not in tandem with both the OAU Charter and the AU Constitutive Act.
Arikana Chihombori-Quao has spoken worldwide to explain and empower all peoples of African descent to unite and build the “Africa We Want” as adopted in African Union Agenda 2063. Paradoxically, her bold statements on the kind of Africa we want to have in 2063 got her fired, which also explains that the Agenda 2063 is a façade. Visibly, Africans are not in control of their own destiny.
The autonomy of the African Union as a multilateral organisation comes to the spotlight, interrogating its president, Moussa Faki Mahamat source of decision making. If he is that allergic to criticism of manipulative tactics by neo-colonial powers, then it is sufficient to say that the regional bloc is captured by an overseas power.
Instead of standing with Africa as required by his role, the AU President chose to appease the French against Africans, simply because the staple of the AU annual budget is sponsored by foreign donors. A bone of contention and a source of concern has always been this extreme degree of dependence on external sources of funding which has dispossessed the regional institution of the power formulating independent decisions.
Apparently, most of the decisions are meant to please the sponsors at the expense of meeting the needs and interests of Africans. The most beautiful quote on Pan-Africanism is one by the former president of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings who once said, “You may Christianize me, but do not try to Europeanize me.”
However, with leadership that reflects Western interests while sacrificing corps who try to address the neo-imperialist challenges, it is safe to say, Pan-Africanism is dead and all that Kwame Nkrumah, Samora Machel, Thomas Sankara, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, and Patrice Lumumba sought to achieve for the continent.
Thomas Sankara once stated in an interview with the Swiss journalist, Jean-Philippe Rapp in 1985, “You cannot carry out fundamental change without an amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future.”
This is the exact path of positive madness that Arikana Chihombori wanted to walk down when it dawned on her that it is not only the French that has enslaved Africans for too long but Africans have been enslaved way too long to the extent that they are now satisfied with being slaves. Hence, she got sacked by the African Union for her bold but honest stance on Pan African matters.
Conclusively, in the stance and spirit of Ubuntu that binds us as Africans, this article calls for more signatures on the petition to reinstate Arikana Chihombori-Quao as AU Ambassador to the United States of America.
Takudzwanashe Mundenga is a Zimbabwean journalist, interested in the African political economy. He writes in his own capacity. For comments and feedback, please feel free to reach him at [email protected]