Unscrambling Africa: One of the Thorniest Problems in Africa Today, the Issue of Land Reform and All Its Economic and Political Implications, Was the Theme of the Last African Presidential Roundtable Held in Berlin, Germany. African Business Editor Anver Versi Was Invited to Attend This Usually Closed Event. Here Are His Reflections

By Versi, Anver | African Business, June 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Unscrambling Africa: One of the Thorniest Problems in Africa Today, the Issue of Land Reform and All Its Economic and Political Implications, Was the Theme of the Last African Presidential Roundtable Held in Berlin, Germany. African Business Editor Anver Versi Was Invited to Attend This Usually Closed Event. Here Are His Reflections


Versi, Anver, African Business


The African Presidential Round-table in Berlin, (see African Business, March 2009) organised by Boston University's APARC, was a rare opportunity to sit with some of Africa's great leaders of the past and discuss current issues facing the continent.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Africa's former leaders may have retired from the political limelight but they have been busy, quietly but very effectively, defusing conflict situations and using their vast, combined experience to suggest strategies and policies to their successors.

I also discovered that our former leaders, through such organisations as the Africa Forum, have been consistently fighting Africa's cause on the international stage and making important friends and influencing people in positions of high power.

The value of their contributions often passes unnoticed as they now keep out of the glare of the cameras and prefer to work behind the scenes. From time to time, we hear about 'a council of wise African leaders' intervening in conflict situations and often achieving the 'impossible' by bringing committed foes to the table and even brokering, for example, the power-sharing agreements in Kenya and Zimbabwe and the resolution of a 40-year-old North-South war in Sudan.

The two-day conference provided a wonderful opportunity to discuss critical issues facing the content with people like John Kufuor, Jerry Rawlings and his wife Nana, from Ghana; Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae of Botswana; Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Frederick Sumaye of Tanzania, Cassam Uteem and Karl Auguste Offmann from Mauritius; Nicephore Soglo of Benin and Aristides Pereira from Cape Verde.

For any student of African history, this collection of African leaders in one place at one time was like rolling back the years to some very momentous episodes in the evolution of modern Africa.

Jerry "I am just an angry young Ghanaian" Rawlings of the Second Coming when he seized power the second time around in late 1981, has not changed much, although the pencil-slim air-force pilot figure of those days is now much more solid physically. The passion, the explosive bursts of humour, the clean and clear solutions to problems and that hypnotic speaking voice are all still there.

So it was with all the former leaders--Ali Hassan Mwinyi has lost none of his charm and elegance and his dissection of a question I put to him during a press conference was so clinical and persuasive he got a round of spontaneous applause.

Two of Africa's greatest leaders, Sir Kitu-mile Masire and Festus Mogae (fresh from winning the current Mo Ibrahim African Leadership Award) were remarkably modest in their manner but their analysis of various issues, including the current global economic slowdown, was startlingly original.

In these former leaders, we have the combined experience and distilled wisdom of a large chunk of people who have shaped Africa's history. Each has a valuable story to tell; each can contribute to the collective wisdom of Africa and each can speak from actual experience. Yet, as matters stand, we do not have a mechanism to collect and preserve the experience of such leaders. This is a serious failing.

At present this function is being carried out by the African Presidential Archives and Research Centre (APARC) at Boston University under the leadership of Ambassador Charles Stith. This is an invaluable service being rendered to Africa. The research also finds its way into US foreign policy, which, with President Barack Obama taking a particularly keen interest in Africa, should produce a much closer US-Africa relationship.

Nevertheless, it is essential that we in Africa, including the private sector, should join in with organisations like APARC to tap into the experiences of our former leaders, including business leaders, and produce books, film and radio documentaries to preserve our historic heritage.

The theme of the conference held at the oldest university in Berlin, the Humboldt University, was land reform.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Unscrambling Africa: One of the Thorniest Problems in Africa Today, the Issue of Land Reform and All Its Economic and Political Implications, Was the Theme of the Last African Presidential Roundtable Held in Berlin, Germany. African Business Editor Anver Versi Was Invited to Attend This Usually Closed Event. Here Are His Reflections
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?