Africa(ns) Unite? Kwame Nkurumah to Bob Marley and Muammar Gadaffi


by Nelima Kerré • I woke up thinking about Bob Marley, because today is his birthday. I listened to a couple of his songs and stumbled upon ‘Africa Unite’. I’m now thinking about the newly elected chairman of the African Union, Muammar Gaddafi and his quest for a United States of Africa. I’m looking at the worn copy of Kwame Nkurumah’s book ‘Africa Must Unite’, that’s sitting on my bookshelf. I’m thinking … we’ve heard this phrase again and again in its many variants, ‘Africa Must Unite’, ‘Africans Unite’, ‘African Solutions for African Problems’, ‘My African Sister’, ‘My African Brother’ ….. oooooo I beg! I am tired of it all.

I am tired of it all because Africans only remember to unite when tackling a problem, who’s source is seen to be from outside the continent. I am angry for you my African brother when the police have man-handled you, I sympathise with you my African sister when you are among the first one to be laid off at that American company, we are a proud African continent when the ‘Son of Our Soil’ becomes president of America. Let’s cheer on our African people at the Olympics and World Cup.

I forgot that you are my African brother when during the violence after the Kenyan elections I torched your house and stole your valuables, I forgot that you are my African sister when I raped you during the violence in the Congo, I forget that you are my African people whom I am supposed to serve and this is our African continent that I am supposed to develop so I line my pockets with cash and let you languish in poverty. Ah we may be from the same continent, but you cannot marry my daughter because you are not ‘Habesha’. Oh and we may even be from the same country, but you cannot marry my son because you are not ‘Igbo’. A Hutu and Tutsi union? Forget about that! I will rally for the people in Gaza, but don’t have time to organize one for the people of Zimbabwe (another Bob Marley song). That fundraiser Look everyone! My profile was featured in the Star-Tribune (why weren’t you as excited about your first profile, which was in the African Community Newspaper). By the way, most of these are all REAL ‘MinneAfrican’ examples I think by now you get my drift …..

The diversity of our African culture is a beautiful thing and should be fully embraced. Go ahead, love your (insert African country or tribe here)-self everyone knows I love my Kenyan-ness. However our differences shouldn’t be use look down on others, we should in fact learn from each other . Teach me some Shona, Yoruba or Luganda and I’ll teach you Swahili, Luhya and Sheng. Let’s be African for better or for worse. Let that African-ness be our strength when our problems come from the outside and our conscious when the problems within our boundaries threaten to tear us apart. Why?

Because Africa will NOT unite because Nkurumah said so, Africa will NOT unite because Bob Marley sang so, African will NOT unite because Marcus Garvey, African will NOT unite because Nyerere said so and NOT even now after Muammar Gaddafi says so. Africa WILL unite because you and I say and truly believe so.

Here’s Bob Marley’s Africa Unite;