Remembering Africa’s founding fathers

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THEIR dream was to come up with a united, independent and strong Africa.
They dedicated their lives and worked tirelessly all in an effort to bring Africa her independence and sovereignty.
Indeed the efforts of Africa’s founding fathers did not go to waste as the continent continues to celebrate their work and soldier on in achieving their dreams.
Those who made up the Casablanca bloc were advocating a more ‘radical approach’, calling for the imminent unification of Africa while the Monrovia bloc called for a gradual approach.
Nonetheless, the vision of the two blocs was the same; Africa had to unite one way or the other.
The view of the Casablanca bloc is the one Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi strongly advocated following the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) formed in 1963 to the African Union (AU) in 2002.

Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (Libya) (1942 -2011)

Gaddafi, popularly known as Brother Leader was a staunch supporter of Pan-Africanism who called for a greater political and economic integration across the continent and advocating the foundation of a United States of Africa.
His slogan was, ‘The United States of Africa is the hope.’
He became one of the founders of the AU initiated in July 2002 to replace the OAU.
During the third AU Summit, held in Libya in July 2005, Gaddafi called for a greater level of integration, advocating a single AU passport, a common defence system and a single currency.
He served as the AU Chairman from 2009 to 2010.
Gaddafi tirelessly marketed his idea keeping alive the dream that Africa could overcome its differences and find some form of unity.
He encouraged African states to reject conditional aid from the developed world.
To try and realise his vision of an Africa not dependent on financial aid from the West, Libya provided 15 percent of the AU’s membership dues.
It also paid for the dues of many smaller and poorer countries.
In an effort to thwart the dream that was being pushed by Gaddafi, the West orchestrated his fall in 2011.

Ahmed Ben Bella (Algeria) (December 25 1918 April 11 2012)

Ahmed Ben Bella, a staunch supporter of African unity, was the first president of Algeria who served between 1963 and 1965.
Inspired by Egypt’s Gamal Adbel Nasser, he pledged to fight colonial rule not only in his country but for Africa.
His vision was that the liberation of Algeria was not complete as long as the entire continent was not also freed from the yoke of foreign and racial domination. 
“With my government we engaged in bringing our help to fight for national freedom,” said Bella.
“At that precise moment, several countries were still colonised or had barely overcome colonisation.
“This was the case in practically all of Africa.
“We supported them.”
Ben Bella during the founding summit of the OAU in Addis Ababa, in May 1963, urged his fellow African leaders to ‘die a little or even completely,’ to complete the decolonisation agenda and the struggle against apartheid and racial discrimination.
Driven by the conviction that without unity Africa would not be able to meet the challenge of recovering her freedom and dignity, Ben Bella worked hand in hand with fellow African leaders.
During his tenure, he embarked on various empowerment programmes notably the land reforms to benefit landless farmers.
His policy of self-management was adopted after the peasants seized former French lands.

William Tubman (Liberia) (November 29 1895 – July 23 1971)

Tubman who is regarded as the ‘Father of modern Liberia’ was Liberia’s 19th president who served from 1944 until his death in 1971.
During his tenure, Tubman is credited for leading a policy of national unity in order to reduce the social and political differences between his fellow Americo-Liberians and the indigenous Liberians.
Together with fellow African leaders he participated in numerous conferences and meetings aimed at mapping strategies on how to ‘free’ Africa.
In 1955, as a show of solidarity with fellow African leaders he participated in the Asian African Conference and in 1958 the First Conference of Independent African States in Accra organised by Kwame Nkrumah.
In 1959 he organised the Second Conference of African States.
He helped to found the OAU.
He was part of the Monrovia bloc that advocated the gradual unification of Africa.

Modibo Keita (Mali) (June 4 1915 – May 16 1977)

Modibo Keita, a strong advocate for national peace devoted his entire life to African unity.
His dream just like fellow founding fathers was to realise the birth of a ‘strong continent that promoted development for its people.’
He first played a part in the creation of the Federation of Mali with Leopold Sedar Senghor.
With Sékou Touré, the President of Guinea, and Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana, he formed the Union of the States of Western Africa.
In 1963, he played an important role in drafting the charter of the OAU.
In 1963, he invited the king of Morocco and the president of Algeria to Bamako, in the hope of ending the Sand War, a frontier conflict between the two nations.
Along with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Keïta was successful in negotiating the Bamako Accords, which brought an end to the conflict.

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