AFRICAN UNION

UNION AFRICAINE UNIÃO AFRICANA

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA P. O. Box 3243 Telephone (251-1) 517700 Telex 21046 Fax (251-1) 517844 /517498 E-Mail: oauaacd@telecom.net.et REV.1

FIRST MEETING OF INTELLECTUALS OF AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA ORGANISED BY THE AFRICAN UNION

DAKAR 6 - 9 OCTOBER 2004

DRAFT CONCEPT PAPER

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such as the demobilisation of intellectuals following the «independence» which for many had been the target. 5. etc. The African intellect is in crisis. This is a crucial challenge. particularly in the fields of literature and defence of the African identity and personality. The goal of the African Union C ommission. After a particularly flourishing period. from whom one would have expected a more significant contribution to facilitate the understanding of a changing Africa. leaving plenty of room for the development of a pernicious Afro-pessimism upheld by self-styled «Africanists». 3. the apparent triumph of the American model after the crumbling of the Soviet bloc. through this meeting. Significant efforts have been deployed for the October 2004 meeting to be scientifically fruitful. 4. This intellectual slackening has been attributed to various factors. be it indigenous or in the Diaspora. However.INTRODUCTION 1. It is in this relatively more unfavourable context that the elite has be come mute. as from the 1930s. should facilitate a more substantial and better-structured participation of intellectuals in conducting the affairs of the Continent and managing its relations with the world. 2. a preparatory meeting was held in Dakar in 2 . since the latter must be underpinned by a complete revamping and promotion of the Continent’s cultural heritage. this meeting should mark a reawakening of the intellectuals of the Continent and the Diaspora. from 6 to 9 October 2004. among others. which. In this context. it occurs at a time when there is a relatively more significant globalised African intellectual elite in existence than half a century ago. Placed under the aegis of the A frican Union. indeed. apart from the fact that it is paradoxical. African intellectual production seems to have been overcome by inertia. is a contract between the Continent and its intelligentsia. among other objectives. at the invitation of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. in which the very conditions of thought have changed. In order to ward off this threat. The overall result of these different factors is that the African intelligentsia has fallen silent. repressive political frameworks established in many States in which one-party rule had emerged as the preferred form of management of the political space. This marked deficit of the African intellect is paradoxical. a reawakening deemed indispensable for Africa to build a respectable place for itself in the comity of nations. the First Meeting of Intellectuals of Africa and the Diaspora will be held in Dakar. this paucity of the African intellect is a serious threat to the future in that it curbs Africa’s endogenous development process. if taken up.

It was in London. Pan-Africanism was then a movement to combat the unjust and illegal oppression of Blacks. thus making it possible to 3 . A re-reading of Africa’s pre-colonial history and some memory work became inevitable stages. he wrote. Alpha Oumar Konaré. Williams. the importance of African intellectuals contributing to the structuring of the African Union was underscored and ideas aired on the themes and issues which it would be interesting to delve into during the Dakar Conference of October 2004. English. it had been parcelled out into French. the Slave Trade continued with colonisation. At that time. Africa’s place in the world. Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union. missionaries and merchants (the 3 ‘M’s) on this Continent and inculcated the idea of white supremacy. This oppression began in the 16 th Century with the Slave Trade. Africa did not exist as an independent entity. Modern Pan-Africanism was born outside Africa with the 20th Century. Pan-Africanism was primarily the assertion of the existence of an African identity that colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic Trade had seriously distorted or endangered. its children were colonial subjects. the contribution of African intellectuals to the consolidation of African integration and the African Union. Prior to this. Belgian. in July 1900. it enabled the hundred or so participants to voice a few concerns that deserve to be taken up by the October 2004 meeting. Portuguese and German possessions since the “ Scramble for Africa” was launched in Berlin (1885-1886). namely: 21st Century Pan-Africanism. 1. of bringing together people of African origin throughout the world. African identity in a multi-cultural context. 21s t Century Pan-Africanism 6. that Henry S. and Africa’s ties with its Diaspora. - Each of these themes is developed hereunder. which unleashed its military. In this context. the present note outlines five themes that could be addressed and discussed at the meeting of African intellectuals.November 2003. at the two meetings organised in October and November 2003 in Addis Ababa by Mr. if not simply and pur ely negated. Violent and massive. its cultures belittled and rejected as «primitive». On the basis of ideas developed during these deliberations/meetings and the vision of the African Union. organised the First Pan-African Conference with the aim. a lawyer from Trinidad.

what is its position toda y? 4 . free themselves and build a more humane future where their identity as Africans of the Continent or the Diaspora would be recognised and respected. are far from being achieved.highlight and promote an African history on which an alternative glance was cast. Its leeway has been eroded and reduced and its development has never seemed as problematic as it now is. It was also a matter for political. with researchers such as Cheikh Anta Diop. 7. 9. present-day Pan-Africanism falls within a radically different politico-ideological and geopolitical context. this glance was without complex and it constituted a riposte to the contempt in which the continent was held. Césaire. Damas). the African renaissance struggle is as much a priority as it was a century ago. is the struggle to set the records straight not also a priority for Pan-Africanists? It is an even more absolute priority since there is some measure of revisionism developing. However. if political independence has become a reality. Indeed . Africa has not changed its position in the world and remains the dominated continent. on the other hand. and before him. The collapse of the Socialist camp. understood as a gamble with the future. the rise of the Triad and accelerated globalisation have changed the stakes for Africa. far from being so. Consequently. The two movements were obviously dialectically linked insofar as memory was to serve as the springboard to the future. with particular regard to the Trans-Atlantic Trade. For internal and external reasons. In any case. the Pan-Africanism of that era was not only a matter for intellectuals who explored research avenues or launched literary trends. In 1962. Is the 21st Century Pan-Africanism not in keeping with some continuity in relation to its predecessor? Today. and a renaissance. two years after independence. However. for the future that the founding fathers of PanAfricanism dreamt of . it was said in some quarters that Africa was “in a sorry state”. the bards of « negritude » (Senghor. highly dependent on the outside world. from the outset. After the crown of political independence – granted or won through wars – Africa must now recover its jewels and manage its resources to improve the welfare of its children (Ali Mazrui – Crown & Jewel). there was a dual movement with the PanAfricanism of that era: one of a re-conquest/re-appropriation/recasting of history from an African matrix on the one hand. 8. as it happened a century ago. the freedom that had to accompany it is. social and economic players who wanted to develop. and the vision which inspired them. on the contrary. as in the past. Therefore. Africa must take up the challenge of acquiring goods and services and upholding social values without which the freedom expected as a right from the «development» promised by independence will remain purely official and illusive.

a point that will be discussed later. whose construction is now on the agenda. it is a cultural melting pot where successive strata of cultures of Eurasian origin mixed with «native» cultures.10. it is informed by President Abdoulaye Wade’s proposal that the African Diaspora should be made the sixth region of the African Union and be fully incorporated in a new Pan-Africanist movement. transcends geographical borders and cultural or racial barriers: it extends from both sides of the Sahara. tried and tested by time. it is white and black. progress in this direction will be quicker and easier in a more peaceful and stable Africa. Current events have proven him right. In other words. have become confused and have lost 5 . An African State that transcends the distinctive identities in favour of the common interest is a must for Africa. This essential reflection should also focus on the ways and means of achieving Africa’s political unity through the United States of Africa. (1) The failure of nationalist/nationalism projects has made imperative the need to steadfastly move towards economic and political integration a top priority: Nkrumah wrote «Africa must unite ». This emphasises how important it is to provide Africa’s highest representatives and the various elites on the continent with ideas on the conditions whereby lasting peace and stability can be fostered in Africa. However. Africa. 12. the reflection on the significance of Pan Africanism should necessarily take account of the transition from the quest for unity to that for union. In short. there have never been such great opportunities to rethink and renovate PanAfricanism. which finds expression in the replacement of the OAU with the African Union. thereby making it an instrument for the liberation of Africa. It should ensure that this semantic and institutional evolution creates new realities marked by the gradual eradication of all borders between African countries. 11. born on the African continent (Reference to Mbeki’s speech: «I am an African») (2) (3) The concept of ide ntity fluidity is now necessary. in other words. continental and insular. in another development. Of course. Arab and African. for at least three reasons. are the questions raised about contemporary PanAfricanism not fundamentally different from those raised by the initiators? It is a question of knowing who the Africans are? Where do they come from? Where do they want to go? The new Pan-Africanism must provide clear answers to these difficult questions in a new context marked by such profound changes that our traditional points of reference.

But how could this United States of Africa be attained? Could a multinational. 13. with the «multi-citizenship» of Africans. they refer to a model that was used in the great precolonial empires – particularly the Mali Empire. The challenge is even greater in that these answers must be part of a comprehensive approach that has not yet been completely worked out. federalist model State be thought up? Tentative answers have been provided to this crucial question. the latter preferred a more classical institutional structure. the sacrosanct respect for borders inherited from colonialism. Without rejecting the principle of federalism as a strategic option. Therefore. in the more or less short term. Contribution of African Intellectuals to the consolidation of African Integration and the African Union 14. They emphasise the fact that this model made it possible to concurrently establish vast spaces – sub-continental. In proposing these. the intangibility of the inherited borders was a strong referent. But how do we reconcile the new citizenship that must be established. or re-established in some cases. In this regard. With the inception of the African Union. continental or even transcontinental – and withdraw into a specific space where there was autonomous management. on the other. It will be recalled that the idea strongly defended by Nkrumah in the early 1960s was not greeted with much enthusiasm by his peers. development in «concentric circles» based on linguistic and geographical affinities including some aspects inherited from the colonial era. federalism and 6 . the territorial issue should be reviewed from scratch. namely. Irrespective of the option envisaged. the Heads of State. has re-emerged from debates on the African Union. 2. others. 15. and Nkrumah’s generous ideas are henceforth receiving a huge response from the African elite and the masses.their clarity in the same way as our former borders have lost their significance. federal citizenship and regional citizenship. Some contributors propose a federal State derived from the present States. a confederate State from the five regional groupings formed by the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). but which should obviously avoid a double pitfall of identity introversion on the one hand and unconditional international integration. the prejudices of the 1960s faded away. although they have not completely disappeared in all areas. and with it. The ambition to build a United States of Africa. as the prevailing feeling of numerous Africans from many spheres of citizenship could be called? Joseph Ki Zerbo and other intellectuals propose a pyramidal citizenship system: local citizenship. the idea is to integrate regionalism.

in the same way as PanAfricanism came from a small group of intellectuals at the end of the 19th Century. 18. Coupled with this first series of questions is another on the internal dynamism of each State or federated entity. However. if the current and future challenges are to be taken up through a collective.decentralisation. has its advantages. 17. let alone in the NEPAD framework. Africa’s intellectuals and the Diaspora should be the designers and key promoters of a real Global Coalition for Africa (by drawing lessons from the successes and failures of what already exists or by taking over the latter). as regards creating and maintaining a mystical United States of Africa. at the end of the Second World War. how to operationalise the concept of “border countries”. socio-political and sociocultural configurations. The question arising at this level consists in knowing on what such a State should be based. such a model. Of course. What will be the place of ethnic groups in such a construction? What content(s) will be given to citizenship? On what linguistic bases should this multinational and federalist State be established? What place will be given to regional languages? What place will be given to national languages? Admittedly. This structure to lobby internationally for the continent’s development. 7 . It devolves on them to create this mystical United States of Africa and establish fruitful alliances with other symbolic producers to keep this flame alive. intelligible and legible project. the problem arises as to how to articulate the different levels of power and provide them with appropriate resources. should particularly ensure the effectiveness of the new partnership that Africa has proposed to the rest of the International Community through the NEPAD. coherent. which enabled the pre-colonial empires of West Africa to hold out for many centuries. as well as difficulties. However. these issues have not yet been a dequately addressed in the African Union and its Commission. how to make the current borders – which will not disappear overnight – as flexible as possible. They have a special responsibility in that the impetus must come from them. transform belligerent structures into prosperous centres and the driving force behind new socio-economic. a little later. efforts should be geared towards addressing these issues and dealing with them head-on. and the slogan for independence. Indeed. reconcile the exigencies of a strong central authority and the autonomy of the grassroots. which Ki-Zerbo calls the «margins». The role of African intellectuals – those in the Continent and in the Diaspora – is primordial in this regard. 16.

above all. Africa’s Identity in a Multi-cultural Context 19. Africa was. particularly in the cities where it is embodied in youths who have maintained a complex relationship with African traditions and Western modernism. In the economic field. to recover or forge a cultural identity and assert it fully: therein lay the problem of African personality. the environment to be protected. Reconciling with the pa st. a certain cultural cross-fertilisation is developing. it would be in line with a globalisation that imposes the Western model through the media. the situation is far from encouraging. 23. Without trying to draw up the balance sheet. The concept of an African personality. receptiveness and openness are interwoven among this urban youth. it should be pointed out that Africa is relatively more present in the markets than China and India and that its marginalisation is not as inevitable as some would like to think. despite the significant progress. Africa was to exist as an economic entity and its immense natural wealth was to be developed. which Afro-Americans often referred to. 21. the Continent has been completely free in this regard since 1994. For various reasons. 20. The original Pan-Africanism was meant to be a global project in the sense that the Pan-Africanist demand encompassed all aspects of Africa and the black world that needed to be established or rehabilitated. The erosion of local cultures to the point of eradication is a possible development. The evolution of these flourishing urban cultures constitutes a major uncertainty for the future. and the image of Africa and Blacks in the world to be built and restored. the battle is far from over. Africa was to exist as a political force by freeing itself from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid. “adepts in the exclusive cultural africanity”. In the African societies and economies. is wider because it is not only economic and political but also a cultural concept: African languages to be promoted. clear-cut opposition and the anathemas of their seniors. a strong assertion of one’s identity. in the cultural field. 22. In this regard.3. history to be revisited. the Pan-Africanist project of the early 20th Century was subsequently somewhat fragmented and the responsibilities for its implementation mitigated because they were shared among several organisations. who have little inclination to give way to exclusivism. The results achieved were uneven from one sphere or field to the other. However. although Africa’s announced death is more of a fantasy than a reality. with the first democratic elections organised in South Africa. In 8 . it must be acknowledged that Africa gained its independence from the political standpoint.

To the former. an immense task awaits the inspirers of these initiatives. a new trend has been developing around two key ideas. identity reflexes could crystallise and take the form of an introversion generally acknowledged. Africa is currently going through a difficult present and its future is hazy and uncertain. Afro-optimists and Afropessimists have for a long time contested a free-for-all market. it is killing itself with the aid it receives from its partners. in short. the fact that: (1) the future is being prepared and planned. On the other hand. which came into being at the dawn of the 21st Century. a more humane world. many of them should have a regional character not only to survive but also to carry African messages to other continents/markets. To the latter. which will enable Africa to give full vent to its creativity and contribute to a constructive dialogue between cultures and peoples for a more stable. 24. the most recent of which are “African renaissance” embodied by President Mbeki. 4. (2) Africa’s future will depend on what Africans will or will not do now. This trend. Ki Zerbo talks about “infrastructuring” culture. just and responsible world. above all. It is the path already trodden upon by a few creators. After a glittering past. etc. In any case. to be neither desirable nor in keeping with the African spirit. Africa has been neglected and will continue to be so because it is insignificant and. Real cultural industries should be created and developed in Africa. and the African Union. it would still be necessary to formulate and implement real cultural policies. where it is even more difficult to assert Africa’s cultural presence than its economic presence. which finds expression in what is sometimes referre d to as Afro-responsibility has inspired many initiatives. For some time now. in reaction to the credo of the invisible hand and “free for all market”. Granted that there is a strong will to tread this path. buttressed by solid material and logical bases which are sorely lacking today.reaction to this globalisation/westernisation. 26. it is agreed that no population ever developed exclusively from the outside. Africa’s place in the world 25. The most desirable path today is the dialectic of entrenchment and openness to which Césaire gave political expression in extolling the virtues of an Africa entrenched but open to all currents. Africa will save the world because it is a reservoir of spirituality. that one develops by drawing from within the elements of one’s own development. 9 .

for the continent has no future without a real and total integration process. Africa has indisputable assets. Africa has many other and these include: the awareness of African political leadership. 28. it would be advisable to revisit the conclusions of the Conference that the Men of Science held in Brazzaville in 1987. it is necessary that the vision of the world underpinning the said renaissance and the scenario thereof are coherent and feasible. the continent’s strategic position in the cultural dialogue for a more stable. the diaspora and the international civil society) capable of and willing to contribute to Africa’s development. African societies must be convinced about the fact that African renaissance is within their reach. the critical mass of resource -persons (from the continent. the largest possible number of social and political stakeholders must embrace the scenario adopted. the need for promoting science and using research results based on a sound correlation between research and development. Finally. Indeed. There is a need for collective imagination that will transform people linked by the vagaries of history and geographical constraints into interdependent societies in their efforts to build a future characterised by freedom. convergence among the forces behind the global social movement in their advocacy for greater justice. for this renaissance to become a reality. Secondly. hence. Thus. three conditions must be met. there is a need to create the conditions for genuine partnership. ethics and solidarity in international relations. the possibility of making maximum use of the key positions held by Africans and diasporan Africans in the international civil service. In this regard. the academic world. the private sector and in the civil society. First. just and responsible world. Africa must not only develop its immaterial wealth but also make full use of all of its natural resources. especially since Africa has decided to henceforth 10 . that is to say within the realm of possibilities. This is contingent on its effective entry into modernity.27. - - - - 29. that notwithstanding the real difficulties it faces. desire and action. to occupy its rightful position in the international arena. But what is this realm of possibilities? The answer to this question calls for an indepth prospective reflection.

30. The term “diaspora” refers to this population. whose implementation. like that of the African Union. It behoves the Conference to consider how such partnerships can be forged.promote this type of co-operation after the “aid-grant binomial” has shown its limits. 5. must be addressed at the Conference of intellectuals. despite the hardships in the plantations. in the Caribbean and in South America. 33. economic integration or subsidies to farmers are of prime concern to Africa. debt. and one of them is to remove all artificial barriers between the so-called African problems and the world or global problems. with whom and on the basis of which guidelines. Generally speaking. Their descendants will be very delighted to contribute to a new Pan-African momentum for. had played a leading role in the Pan-African struggle. Africa’s ties with its diaspora 32. It also created large black communities across the Atlantic. George Padmore and William Dubois. It is quite logical that diasporan Africans should be taken on board. sportsmen and women. as well as artists. the war against terrorism. only a strong and resolute Africa can facilitate their struggle. which must definitely have a say on these issues that hamper its development. and indeed be allowed to play a leading role in the establishment of such strategic partnerships. There are millions today who 11 . 34. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade depleted the African continent of its most youthful populations. and human rights. HIV/AIDS. it cannot shy away from topical global issues such as environment. as in the past. however. partnership has its exigencies. Admittedly. in North America. In the common language. “diaspora” is increasingly used to designate migrants who chose to live outside the continent for a more or less long period of time: workers of all categories. intellectuals. who. The major expression of this strategic option consists in the creation of the NEPAD. one discovers in this part of the world the presence of an African culture embodied by men and women uprooted from Africa. At thousands of kilometres from its cradle. oppressed and exploited as slaves. Some of them. like Marcus Garvey. had succeeded in preserving precious components of their cultures over generations. Nevertheless. There is a need to forge strategic partnerships on all these issues. 31.

cannot remain indifferent to Africa’s plight. symbols and representations as well as the intellectual springboard to moral recovery and rearmament. As regards the expected results of the Conference. dictates that they should be given the chance to serve as Africa’s ambassadors in the countries where they have settled and that conducive conditions should be created in Africa to enable them to invest part of their savings in development activities. 5) the identification of the underlying factors of shared identity that will provide a sound basis for African references. it could be proposed that the Conference provide ideas that could contribute towards ensuring: 1) the remobilisation and renewed commitment to a really operational “Global Coalition for Africa”. The heart. the private sector. good governance and respect for human and people’s rights on sound foundations. to promote Science and technology for development. 3) the establishment of peace. Expected Results 35. based on the institutional foundations of the African Union. 12 . 2) the mobilisation of leaders and decision-makers at the level of governments. NEPAD and the regional economic communities. democracy. 4) the political organisation and integrated economic development of Africa. but also reason. as well as the scientific community of Africa and its Diaspora.