. . . African scholars extol President Mugabe’s vision
Prominent African scholars and those in the Diaspora who attended a two-day Afrocentricity conference that ended last Friday in Harare, hailed Zimbabwe’s Afro-centred broad-based empowerment policies, which they said should be replicated across the entire continent.
The scholars said Africa Day being celebrated today would have been meaningless without Zimbabwe’s revolutionary transformation of the social, political, economic and cultural sectors that were previously skewed to serve the interests of white colonial regimes that used to rule Africa before the attainment of political independence.
Professor and chairperson of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University in the United States Molefi Kete Asante, described President Mugabe as an iconic symbol of resistance who went against all odds and embarked on the land reform programme as part of correcting historical injustices inflicted on the black majority.
“Africans (in Zimbabwe) saw the European grabbing of African lands by force, trickery and fake deeds as a devious mechanism for dispossessing the ancestors’ descendants of the use of their own lands. If one used even the definition of land ownership then the 70 percent of Zimbabwean land that the 6000 white farmers controlled was nothing more than common theft,” said Prof Asante.
He said Afrocentricity was about being anchored on African philosophy and world view, but this could only be achieved when Africans were rooted on the land.
Assistant Professor at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa and director of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, Dr Vusi Gumede, said the liberation of African thinking was indispensable in the quest to advance authentic African interests.
He urged Africans to look back into history and culture for blueprints and models from which their forebears conceived, built and sustained civilisations for thousands of years.
He said Africa Day is an important day on the continent, which must move from just a celebration, but also a time to reflect on issues that have continued to litter the way for tangible unity.
“We also need to be conscious of Allan Boesak’s words when he said Africa is more than a geographical location. Africa is Africa most in her children wherever they may dwell, in wisdom of her elders and the courage of her youth, the strength of her mothers and the dedication of her mothers and the dedication of her fathers. Being an African is not simply a question of sharing the land; it is sharing the fate of Africa,” said Dr Gumede.
Dr Simphiwe Sesant said President Mugabe had practically delivered the promise of independence by giving people land.
“There is no doubt that President Mugabe’s policies are enduring. In some years to come, future generations are going to benefit from the inheritance bequeathed to them by President Mugabe. We thank God that President Mugabe has been lucky in that despite being a marked Western man, he has not met the same fate of Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso), Patrice Lumumba (DRC) and Muammar Gadaffi of Libya who were all assassinated for advocating for Africans to chart their own destinies,” said Dr Sesant.
Africa University Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa, said Afrocentricity and pan-Africanism were not archaic paradigms as they continued to foster a spirit of oneness which was a critical ingredient in the decolonisation of the continent.
“Africa is looking for a pathway in which it can start oscillating the path that was disturbed by years of slavery and colonialism. Afrocentricity is central to African unity in that it urges us to reconnect with the source of our essence and being,” said Prof Furusa.
He drew the attention of the delegates to the importance of pan-African and Afrocentric consciousness in a context where African people were being torn apart by Afrophobic violence when they were supposed to be coming together.
The conference organiser and executive secretary of Afrocentricity Zimbabwe, Dr Tavengwa Gwekwerere, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the country had demonstrated that indigenous people could reclaim their ownership of their resources.
He stressed that the conference was significant not only because it was coming to Africa for the first time, but also because it sought to locate pan-Africanism and Afrocentric idea at the centre of the African people’s quest for an authentic African Renaissance.
Dr Gwekwerere said the coming together of intellectuals from the continent and the Diaspora was critical forging of a united front in advancing the causes of Africans.
“History makes it clear that Africans in the Diaspora have always been critical in African liberation struggles dating back to the 1895 struggles Chicago Congress for Africa and the Pan-Africanist Congresses organised by the likes of W.E Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta among others,” said Dr Gwekwerere.
He said Afrocentricity and pan-Africanism spearheaded by President Mugabe were timeless discourses as they constituted the unavoidable rallying points in all the struggles of African people.
University of Zimbabwe senior lecturer Professor Claude Mararike, said there was need for Africans to think independently and create agendas that spoke directly to their interests as free and self-moving people.
California based academic Dr Adis Akebulen, castigated the United States for its intrusive destabilising foreign policy in Africa.
“United States’ interference in Africa has nothing to do with democracy or human rights, but simply to destabilise certain countries viewed as undermining its “national” interests. We must do what is in the interest of Africa. The interests of the US are diametrically opposed to the interests of Africa,” said Dr Akebulen.