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Searching for a new generation of pan Africanists

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Dr. Effiong Udo (left) and the Director of Communications, Mr Etim Etim during the briefing

By ETIM ETIM

Africa is always in perpetual struggle for survival.

It is the world’s second largest and second-most populous continent after Asia, but its past and future always seem to be in constant collision.

In the past, our forebears confronted slavery, enslavement and colonialization, and this gave birth to pan Africanism.

Now, the continent is at the crossroads of historical occurrences.

The clash of civilizations between Islamic fundamentalists and the West; the fight for geopolitical dominance between China and the US; the breakout of war in Europe for the first time since the end of the Second World War and the growing wealth gap between the global north and global south are some of the forces that African leaders have to deal with to chart the continent’s socioeconomic direction in the coming decades.

Africa is also facing what appears to be another round of colonialism characterized by massive exploitation of its natural resources by agents of foreign countries notably, China and Russia.

Illegal mining of natural resources in many African countries, including Nigeria, DRC, Niger Republic, Chad and many others are the major causes of insecurity, violence and poverty.

A new wave of migrant from the continent pours into Europe and America every day.

Without a doubt, our continent remains the most exploited continent in the world.

In the welter of all these, the continent suffers from incompetent, corrupt and weak leadership.

Worried by the fate of their continent, a group of African academics, professionals and civic society activists have come together in search of a new generation of pan Africanists who will save their continent from collapse.

Although Pan Africanism was born in the struggles of African people against enslavement and colonization, and this struggle goes back to the rebellions on the slave ships and plantations across the West, the new generation of pan Africanists are fighting at intellectual level, trying to decolonize the minds of Africans.

They have established an organization known as The Pan African Dialogue Institute (TPADI).

It was conceived in 2016 by a couple of African academics and professionals led by Nigeria’s Dr. Effiong Udo of the University of Uyo and Prof. Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha, a US citizen originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

TPADI is headquartered in the University of Uyo. Dr. Udo has unfathomable passion for pan Africanism.

I caught up with him in his office at the University of Uyo last week as he was preparing for hosting an international conference on Dialogue and Pan Africanism.

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TPADI, he says, is a network of academics, professionals, civil society and grassroot leaders in different fields of life, within Africa and the diaspora, who are motivated by the best principles of Pan Africanism to serve the continent and its people worldwide.

It is a civil society think tank for the study, practice and propagation of Pan-Africanism.

Its programs and activities revolve around three thematic areas: education, policy and projects. On education, the institute hopes to create programs to educate ourselves, all Africans and other interested persons in Pan-Africanism.

It offers certificate, executive and postgraduate programs in Pan-Africanism and create public awareness through seminars, workshops, webinars and convoke cultural events and academic conferences on dialogue and Pan-Africanism.

On policy, it engages in local, continental, and global policy analysis, formulation and advocacy, within the threshold of Pan-Africanism. The aim is to inform and advise stakeholders and decision-makers on resolving African problems with African solutions.

On projects, TPADI conducts needs assessment to identify, design and implement projects to build and advance the living conditions of African communities and empower our peoples. ‘’Our educational, policy and project engagements intersect under social, economic, political, religious and cultural issues, as well as scientific, environmental, educational, legal, gender and business domains’’, he said, gesticulating frantically. ‘’This is why we have 10 dialogue commissions who regularly engage with these issues. So far, we have members from 22 African countries. Some of them are based in the Americas, Europe and United Kingdom’’. Dr. Udo said he was inspired into Pan-Africanism when he attended a program at the University of California in 2016 and had to team up with many Africans in diaspora on a research program. ‘’The experience opened my eyes to what is wrong with Africa and the fact that it is only Africans that can create African solutions to our problems’’, he told me.

Pan Africanism emerged as a response to the long history of the indignities of colonization, enslavement, and systemic oppression and exploitation faced by African people across the globe.

The African Union defines Pan-Africanism as: “… an ideology and movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide.

It is based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social and political progress and aims to ‘unify and uplift’ people of African descent. The ideology asserts that the fates of all African peoples and countries are intertwined.

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At its core, Pan-Africanism is “a belief that African peoples both on the continent and in the diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny.” From the early days of Pan Africanism till today, the advocacy for the unity, solidarity, and empowerment of people of African descent worldwide continues to be a potent force driving discussions on identity, liberation, and socio-political progress of the continent and its people.

The Pan African Dialogue Institute (TPADI), according to Dr. Udo, is therefore established to pursue the decolonization of the mind through education, policy analysis, policy building and advocacy around multi-faceted issues within the threshold of Pan-African principles.

He said, ‘’Our job is to inspire excellence and best practices in Pan Africanism, promote African values of community, hospitality, respect for human and environmental dignity, unity in diversity, love and solidarity with all, as encapsulated in the Ubuntu philosophy.

We are seeking to reverse the mentality that Africans are not capable of helping themselves and solving their problems’’.

‘’We want to reverse that culture of dependency on external assistance that unfortunately still prevails on the continent. If people become too reliant on getting their support, their nourishment and their safety from outside sources, they do not strive to find the power within themselves to rely on their own capacities. Pan Africanism calls upon Africans to drawn on their own strengths and capacities and become self-reliant. Again, we are seeking to celebrate our Africanness, the unity, resilience and collective identity as Africans. And, we want to achieve all these by using dialogue and collaboration among individuals, communities, institutions and nations’’, he said.

The institute is marking the 2024 International Africa Day with pomp and pageantry.

Nigeria is among the multitude of African countries that have never celebrated Africa Day which is May 25. It was on May 25, 1963, that leaders of the then 32 independent African States signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which brought the Organization of African Unity into existence.

In 2002, the OAU established its own successor, the African Union, and adopted May 25 every year as a day to celebrate Africa and highlight the continent’s continued struggle against neocolonialism, exploitation and adversity.

Surprisingly, ever since the day was declared, only nine African countries (The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are known to observe May 25 as public holiday with celebrations.

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The other 46 countries, including Nigeria are less aware of this very important day.

By marking the day with many festivities next week, TPADI is has made Nigeria join the other nine countries to celebrate Africa Day for the first time ever.

‘’Our institute will be formally launched on May 25 in a grand ceremony at the University of Uyo with former President Goodluck Jonathan as the chairman of the occasion. Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof. Ndaeyo and hundreds of distinguished personalities from Nigeria and outside the country will be present.

Gov. Umo Eno will lay the foundation for the International Headquarters of the Institute at the University. There will be speeches, fairs, cultural displays and other events on the Africa Day’’, Udo enthused.

Between May 23 and 26, 2024, the institute will host the first international conference on “Dialogue and Pan Africanism’’.

The conference is held in collaboration with Centre for Deep Dialogue and Critical Thinking, Directorate of International Programmes and faculties of Arts, Law, Social Sciences, and Communication and Media Studies of the University of Uyo.

Already, Professor P.L.O Lumumba has confirmed his participation as the keynote speaker at the conference, while plenary speakers will include Prof. Wole Soyinka; Prof. Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha (DR Congo/USA), Prof. Mary Nyangweso (Kenya/USA), Prof. Emmanuel Akpabio (Nigeria), Amb. Daniel Guttierez (Rep. of Belize), Prof. Joseph Ushie (Nigeria), Dr. Donatus Ukpong (Nigeria), Prof. Chris Ekong (Nigeria), Prof. Peter Esu (Nigeria), Dr. Jean-Louis Ikambana (USA), Prof. Aniekan Brown (Nigeria), Prof. Mojisola Iseyin (Nigeria), Prof. Gabriel Umoh (Nigeria), Dr. Ubong Essien Umoh (Nigeria), among others.

The conference seeks to provide informed Pan-Africanist perspectives on a wide range of issues affecting Africa and its people everywhere in the world.

Presenters are expected to explore the trajectories of development in the continent from the lens of Pan-Africanism.

They will probe the different approaches, theories, philosophies or ideologies that have been adopted at community, national and continental levels by key players to drive developmental efforts.


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