11 February 2019

Africa: Kenyatta Roots for Closer Ties Among People of African Descent

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President Uhuru Kenyatta Monday rooted for Pan-Africanism, which was the clarion call for many African independence leaders nearly 60 years ago.

In a session to remember the legacy of slave trade and colonisation during the ongoing African Union Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Africans will have to strengthen ties with the continent's descendants to realise a shared prosperity.

"I am a Pan-Africanist who believes that African peoples have a common cultural heritage and historical experience that we must understand if we are to have clearer sight of our desired destination," President Kenyatta said during the session to mark 400 years since the era of Transatlantic slave trade in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The session was meant to "start a conversation" on renewing ties between Africa and other people of African descent.

The idea of learning from the atrocities meted on Africans and uniting them for a common goal is not new.

President Kenyatta's father Jomo Kenyatta, Ghanaian founding President Kwame Nkrumah and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie were some of the chief proponents of African unity that would help black people emerge from the years of torture and poverty.

Critics say the fact that Africa is still poor and experiencing neo-colonialism reflects the African leaders' inability to implement decisions they propose.

INTERNAL WEAKNESSES

"It is no doubt that African heritage is important. The founding fathers saw Pan-Africanism as a way for Africa to see themselves anew," said Prof Winston Jumba, the dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Nairobi.

"Our problem has been the wait-and-see. Very few countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia have been brave enough to enter other territories and restore peace, for example," he said.

During the session, Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni blamed the situation on how Africans have remained 'asleep'.

"Africa's problems have always been endogenous though exploited by exogenous factors. Outsiders have always taken advantage of our internal weaknesses to dominate us," he said.

"The big question then, for us contemporary leaders, is what have we done since independence to make Africa stronger and ready to counter any exogenous threats or shall we be caught napping like those tribal leaders of old?"

The leaders advocated for closer ties through art, scholarship, trade, religious ceremonies and youth movements.

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