Richard Runyararo Mahomva
In one of his profound reflections, Archie Mafeje argues that: . . . we would not talk of freedom if there was no prior condition in which this was denied; we would not be anti-racism if we had not been its victims; we would not proclaim Africanity if it had not been denied or degraded, and we would not insist on Afrocentrism if it had not been for Eurocentric negations . . . Of necessity, under the determinate global conditions, an African renaissance must entail a rebellion — a conscious rejection of past transgressions, a determined negation of negations. (Mafeje 2011: 31-32)
Prof Mafeje’s contribution constantly reminds us of the overarching fundamental and collective need for Africans home and abroad to reject all the manifest logic(s) of imperialism. Mafeje’s call is that of a radicalised re-membering of the unrelenting effects of racism — its “epistemicides” and “memoricides”.
As we celebrated Africa Day yesterday, we must recollect our dignity and identity which imperialism has denigrated. This is an opportunity to reconcile once more with our denied African knowledge systems and celebrate them as alternatives to the limited options to worldviews which colonialism and slavery have imposed on us over the years.
In asserting the centuries of defeat, our political theory from Garveyism, Negritude, Pan-Africanism, Nationalism, Decolonisation, African Renaissance and now Decoloniality are committed projects of rethinking the West and its plunder to the Black race.
At the same time, African politicians and intellectuals are products of Western pedagogy. Cognitively, they are at the crossroads between Western epistemological proclivities and African resistance alternative predispositions.
Many times, the resistance alternative thought is denied existence in African politics and socio-economic strata. Progressive African rationality is replaced by nativist essentialism which in essence is colonially manufactured.
One then wonders, how then does Africa think of a liberating trajectory outside imperial-genetic terms? The anti-imperialist ideological revulsions continue to be threatened by neo-colonial manufactured secession and tribalism agendas, global market induced racism and xenophobia, genocides, neo-liberal lootings of Africa’s economies and political entanglements.
To the credit of African intelligentsia namely academics and creatives, there have been significant attempts to challenge the uneven global order.
Through the committed efforts of thinkers like Ali Muzrai, Chinua Achebe, Dambudzo Marechera, Steve Bantu Biko, Achile Mbembe, Walter Rodney, there has been a massive attempt to construct, reconstruct, contest, appropriate and reject the intellectual vestiges of colonialism.
Through this anti-imperial battlefront, the idea has always been to reposition Africa ontologically and epistemologically, hence seeking the edification of the African soul.
The process of decolonisation and its cross-cutting values of protecting and promoting the post-colonial trinity of national liberation, national sovereignty and the national economy have benchmarked political negotiation and its relation to foreign policy construction.
This is further emphasised by Mignolo (2007), positing that decolonisation should politically “negotiate” its interests in full acknowledgement of the permanent designs of imperial entanglement Africa finds herself in currently.
A clear understanding of Africa’s historical marginality and dependence inclined foreign policy-making calls for a de-colonial turn to help in asserting the continent’s future. Nationalist movements remain at the centre of this process of political negotiation. Liberation movements have an imperialist deconstruction mandate to shaping policy-making.
Recent experience around the world has demonstrated that resistance and liberation movements have become a defining feature of contemporary political conflicts and that in the end, reaching political settlements needs their active involvement and cooperative engagement . . . If political violence is a tool of both state and non-state actors, replacing it with peaceful methods of conflict management is essential in building sustainable peace, and resistance/liberation movements have become central stakeholders in processes of war termination and peace implementation.
Since the end of the cold war, an increasing number of conflicts have been resolved through negotiated settlements, rather than military victory, and have been followed by a series of post-war peace-building programmes aimed at demilitarising, democratising, developing and reconciling the country (Dudouet 2009:3).
Pursuant to Dudouet’s reasoning, its compelling to assert that there are the binding moralities of resistance and liberation in post-colonial environments. Inevitably, all domestic politics including all power negotiation processes must be designed to safeguard the consistent re-establishment of liberation values over the reinstatement of imperialism at all costs. The overarching and binding tenet to this position is motivated by the need to dismantle the uneven development and underdevelopment.
Scholtz (2006) corroborates this position and historically situates it in the global political aftermath of the Second World War. This was at a time, a pan-African wave of imperial resistance had assumed favourable traction all over Africa. Scholtz rightly argues that since that period of protracted resistances there has been an increasing conspiring tradition by the oppressed to de-link from oppressive systems which have long-entrenched themselves in Africa. Consequently, there has been an unremitting dialogue in the “global rights revolution” exploring the conflict intrinsic need for self-determination and breaking the global division of the developed and the under-developed.
This continued call for self-determination and decolonisation represents the broader frame of political negotiation which transcends the localised reconfiguration of power in terms of democracy, good governance and human rights prescriptions from the liberal world.
The call for decolonisation as a foundational framework for rethinking the notion of power epitomises the philosophical and legal regimes which reinstate the anti-imperial tradition which gave political independence to Africa.
Liberation movements in Africa — ZANU PF included, represent a fight against the misplaced priorities and moralities of neo-colonialism in Africa. As such, liberation movements must recreate themselves to refuse the authoritarian politics of neo-liberalism at all costs.
The highlighted ideological premises of political negotiation and its faithful attachments to de-westernising powers forms the thrust of foreign policy construction in Africa. Guided by the discussed values of decolonisation.
Ideology and history are critical in filtering logic(s) which are disengaged from the perennial aspirations of a people as predetermined by their past and philosophies of freedom which binds them. In this case, foreign policy-making becomes a symbol and a driver of forceful self-determination and preservation of territorial integrity, national liberation and sovereignty.
This further evokes the firm conviction of this analytical locus that foreign policy design should emanate from political negotiation which is predicated on the unifying aspirations of the masses and core ideological values.
The entrusted status of liberation movements to govern and make policies — in this case, foreign policy is historically and morally defined by principles which when compromised in favour of expedience threaten enduring national interest and the enabling tenets of the longevity of those in power.
As we celebrate Africa Day, we must recall the core role of pan-Africanism as a counter-hegemonic response to the functions of imperialism in placing our ambitions of freedom at the periphery of the global political economy.
We cannot afford to ignore the priority of unity in building Africa following the colossal dismemberment effects of slavery and colonialism. Pan-Africanism and all its intellectual, cultural, political and economic reinforcement of the global synergy of Africans is the bedrock of the continent’s future.
Pan-Africanism is even instructive of the clarion call for Africans to taking charge of their destiny. Against the backdrop of dehumanisation and sub-humanisation of Africans, Pan-Africanism is a logical alternative to finding a new humanism.
Pan-Africanism as a redemptive reordering of power, an ongoing revolt against the ill-disposed dimensions of racial monopolies which have served as intergenerational enablers of Anglo-American values of repression.
Richard Runyararo Mahomva is a political scientist with an avid interest in political theory, liberation memory and architecture of governance in Africa. He is also a creative literature aficionado. Feedback: [email protected]