I recently met up with Julia Bwoma, founder of Question Africa.
Julia is currently preparing to qualify as a barrister and is a staunch advocate for the development of a united Africa.
I must admit to initially being skeptical about the notion of ‘uniting Africa’. I had thought that if more African countries show their individuality, they would garner more respect as unique and independent states (Who else gets annoyed when hearing people refer to Africa as a ‘country’?).
Furthermore, as a Nigerian, I couldn’t help but think about the many divides which exist along ethnic and religious lines within my own country let alone 52 independent African states. The task appeared too daunting. However, after speaking with Julia, I was reminded that there is a counter argument. Uniting together, with clearly outlined objectives could lend a new direction many countries on the continent are missing.
Here’s what Julia had to say:
“When the concept of pan-Africanism is presented as integral to the realization of a renaissance in Africa, it is met with several questions. The most common being: how can a continent of over 50 states, with such diverse cultures and values work together?
Let’s first begin by defining two key terms. ‘Pan-Africanism’ is the belief that solidarity among Africans is needed to overcome the problems being faced. A ‘renaissance’ suggests a revival or re-birth; in the African context it proposes Africans will experience an upward trajectory in thought and practice towards overcoming their problems.
Africans the world over, ought to understand that though we have different cultures and values, we are also intertwined by our history. No state in Africa can currently boast self-sustainability. Therefore, our future lies in our co-operation.
The African leadership has deteriorated over the past 5 decades with many nations fighting over control of their country. It is no longer feasible for Africans to wait on the sidelines for the leadership to take charge and develop the continent. If we are to see real and tangible progress, Africans all over the globe need to work together to impact change. A number of means exist for this to happen, for example African professionals returning to Africa or starting up community development projects.
African states are capable of working together. The different cultures and values should not be seen as a way to differentiate between the different states. They should instead be seen as an opportunity to offer the world diversity within the same continent. Once Africa starts to focus on its strengths and not weaknesses, the continent can realize a renaissance. It can direct its synergies to increase its strength and limit the effect of its weaknesses with a long term goal to eliminate those weaknesses. Furthermore, the continent can work together by realizing that the current non-renewable resources will run out soon. Before the resources run out, Africa should have attained a level of self-sustainability appropriate to cater for its citizens.
I am so tired of hearing Africa is developing; I want to hear Africa is developed!”
I was truly inspired by my conversation with Julia and now view the African narrative in a different light. We are all significant parts of a meaningful whole. The sooner views change from ‘let’s help Africa’ to ‘let’s invest in Africa and African people’, the better.
Find out more about Julia’s project here:
Do you agree with a united Africa?
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