A few days ago we celebrated Africa Day. What does Africa Day mean?a May 25 is the a anniversary of the founding of the OAU, the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU). The day is meant to remind us of the importance of a united continent. There are 54 countries in Africa. However, only 6 countries celebrate and observe the day: Mali, Nambia, Lesotho, Ghana and Zimbabwe.
Each of Africa’s countries has a history that includes the stories of indigenous people, the scourge of colonialism and a now more modern history as we search for the ways to maximize on the talent, resources and human capital in each of our varied, yet indisputably African countries. Within Africa, women are playing important roles in helping to build the continent and have been instrumental in ushering in change, new ideas and development in many African countries.
Zimbabwe is a proud part of Africa and has with it the legacy of being one of the last countries to receive independence from colonial Britain. 35 years on, we are still struggling to find our feet and the future looks bleak. Whereas Zimbabwe’s independence was celebrated a few weeks ago on April 18, truth be told, there is not much to be excited about Zimbabwe’s future. In particular, we seem strangled by a leadership that seems intent on focusing on the past as a strategy that somehow is supposed to pull the wool over our eyes long enough to make us feel like it’s alright that there is no food on our table. But the sad truth is, we cannot eat sovereignty.
What is needed is a comprehensive investment policy that welcomes in nations and business interests who have money to help stimulate economic growth. We must all make money. It can’t be a one-sided affair. It must work to their advantage. And ours.
Whatever state Zimbabwe is in, Africa Day somehow encourages us to look beyond all this. Somehow Africa Day is a time when we can all identify and feel pride in the continent that is Africa. Yes, the beautiful ‘dark’ continent with its allure, it’s many cultures, its beautiful lands and shores, its problems of under-development, hunger, poverty and disease. No matter what, everyone on this continent of every nation can be proud to be African.
Zimbabwe in particular, has a long way to go. We know that. We simply look to the future with a careful and weary eye, hoping against hope for something vastly better than this.
But what about the rest of Africa? What does Africa look like in other countries? We asked two Her Zimbabwe contributors to tell us what Africa looked like from their countries. This is what they had to say:
We are free as Africans, free as Zambians. But what really does this freedom mean to us? A lot of people will argue and say Africa is not free because Africa still depends on its ex-colonial masters even today. This is because most of the time, if not all the time, our leaders dance to the tune played by our ex- colonial masters. Africa is blessed with resources from A to Z and yet the prices for which these resources should be sold and bought are determined not by Africa but by foreign bodies. There are a lot of scenarios that suggest that African freedom is merely a title or status of being. But the truth is, it’s not quite.
And yet, many people argue that Africa is free. In fact, many people celebrate this freedom because it’s personal: it’s seen, it’s heard, it’s enjoyed. As a young African, I am free, you are free, and we are free! Free to do what? Free to shape our own lives? Free to say yes or no? Free to laugh and cry? Free to dance, sing and smile because we want to? Twenty-first Century freedom is not just freedom from slavery. Its freedom to have a voice, freedom to live as one wants and sees fit, freedom to love, freedom to set one’s own destiny and freedom to be you as a person, as a human being.
We may not be economically free, but we are free as a people. Freedom paid for in blood. It is up to us now to ensure that this freedom is meaningful and worth it for those who gave their lives for us to be free, not only for us today but for generations to come.
By Nduta Waweru
For me, Africa still has a long way to go. We pride ourselves in our natural resources and in who we are. It is a continent with a large percentage of youth, which means we have the human resource to re-shape the priorities of the continent. In terms of people, the dependency on the government is reducing. We see more people taking matters in their own hands to create solutions to different problems, using technology and creativity. African citizens are also taking their governments to task over their non-delivery, for example in Burkina Faso. It shows that more initiative is coming from the people, and this could take Africa to a new dawn where citizens demand better services from their leaders.
While this shows promise of better things, there are still issues to tackle. For one, almost all leadership positions are held by old men, meaning the involvement of the youth and women is still negligible. Women on the continent still suffer from violation of their rights and freedoms. Greed, corruption and cronyism are rampant, and the duty bearers are still unwilling to deal with them so as to maintain the status quo. In Kenya, insecurity and corruption are our biggest problems as shown by the terrorist attacks and disappearance of youth believed to be joining al Shabaab and ISIS. In the end, Africa is a paradox: the homeland where we have so much, but so little to show for it.
Main image taken from www.osnetdaily.com