We need to urgently adopt one African language and begin to teach it in every African school, writes Andrew Wutawunashe in his book Dear Africa – The Call of The African Dream that The Patriot is currently serialising.
A SIMPLE but crucial way to foster the spirit of African unity in the hearts of African people everywhere is for the African Union (AU) to start aggressive programmes targeted at caring for African people throughout the continent, particularly in times of disasters such as floods, earthquakes, droughts, displacement and famine.
Even now it is quite embarrassing that when disasters strike African people, Africa is conspicuous by its absence in emergency relief programmes while particularly Western nations are very high in their profile as the relief providers.
This stereotype has a negative impact on the minds of black people.
The AU needs to speedily set-up a high powered disaster relief department and must be first to react in all disasters on the continent, and in fact, take leadership in these programmes.
It will be heartening in the future to see AU helicopters rescuing people in floods and AU cargo planes arrive timeously with food and medical relief.
This is in fact a culture which Africa desperately needs to train her children and people into.
In Western nations for instance, even children are heavily conscientised to respond to needs around the world through collections and so forth.
It is amazing how in African nations, there are almost no programmes to mobilise people to help in disasters even in neighbouring countries.
This is an issue needing urgent attention at every level — from the family to the school to the government there must be aggressive programmes to mobilise African people to care for African and other people in time of need.
It is time to mandate, convene and train a dedicated and standing Pan-African Military force.
Development of African defence industries with their own integrity is also an urgent imperative.
Apart from economy, there is nothing more important to the security, integrity, stature and wholesomeness of a people than a credible military force.
Individual African countries may not alone be able to marshal a military force worth of respect, but if Africa can come together in this field, a formidable army with strategic bases and worthy of respect can be built in a matter of months.
The present embarrassing reality is that strong nations in the world regard the whole of Africa as a military joke, yet there are small nations in this world which have developed their defences to a place worthy of healthy respect, even by military super powers.
One of Africa’s most visionary leaders was Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
This great man boldly sought a path of economic self-reliance, cultural revolution and identity for African people.
His efforts have borne far reaching and evident fruit.
When I have visited Tanzania, I have always been deeply touched by its black people’s deep sense of patriotism, self-reliance, dignity, creativeness, self-confidence and a sheer love for Africa.
Although Tanzania faces the battle of lifting up its people economically, its people have largely stayed in Tanzania to win their economic war at home rather than become economic refugees.
Tanzania remains one of the best positioned countries for indigenous African innovativeness.
A very important achievement of the Mwalimu was to adopt Swahili, the most widely spoken indigenous language in Africa, as Tanzania’s primary language.
In the schools, even science is taught in Swahili.
He had grasped the fact that language is an important key to the distinction, unity, dignity and self determination of a people.
Up to now, one of the most embarrassing things on international forums is to hear Arabs, Chinese, Europeans and others give addresses in their own languages, while Africans speak in a concoction of colonial languages, sort of ‘his master’s voice’.
The Mwalimu was right.
We need to urgently adopt one African language and begin to teach it in every African school.
Swahili is best placed for this, or the AU can commission a team of linguists to construct a language out of the beautiful linguistic foundation of African languages.
A single language will be the most powerful tool for uniting the continent.
The Chinese deliberately took the radical step not too long ago in history, of re-developing their language with Chinese terms invented to replace every English scientific, medical, economic or mathematical term.
The impact of this was that these sciences became a natural part of their culture and it made a huge contribution to their indigenous progress in science and technology.
Similarly, the new Jewish nation as late as the 20th century revived classical Hebrew, practically dead for thousands of years, coined new Hebrew words for every technology, even the fountain pen, and made it the official language of their nation today.
Africa urgently needs to take a step like this.
Though inconvenient in the beginning, the rewards will dwarf the inconvenience.
The unity of Africans must include a fresh initiative to foster oneness between Africans on the continent and Africans historically removed to far off lands, be it voluntarily or by force.
This is why strong ties must again be built between Africa and such groups as African Americans, Africans in the Caribbean, United Kingdom, Europe and other parts of the world.
The historical positioning of African people in many parts of the world holds vast potential for the social, political, cultural and economic advantage for black people everywhere, provided a new unity is built among them.
This issue, the issue of African unity, one Africa, is the issue on which black intellectuals should be focussing.
Young Africans should be fired up with the agenda of African unity.
Editors should be seriously weighting their publications with this issue, and establishing a new standard upon which politicians and their programmes should be judged—relevance to African unity.
Every person and institution of influence should be weighing in on this issue.
The clergy need to be shrill in their calls for the unity of black people.
Above all, African governments and politicians all over the world should work tirelessly towards the unity of black people.
African unity is the underestimated key to the greatness of black people worldwide.
It is the achievement of African unity that will lead other nations of the world, even the Almighty Himself, to look at last at black people with awe and respect and say:
“Behold the Africans are one, and they all have one language, and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”