Magazine article New African

A Tale of Two Countries (2)

Magazine article New African

A Tale of Two Countries (2)

Article excerpt

"Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the
Arabs"--Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state.

Well, this column has been missing again for the past two months, isn't it? This is what they say in the military, "going AWOL" (Absence Without Leave). I went AWOL to make room to run my rapporteur general's report from the Zimbabwe International Book Fair at which, not very surprisingly, the almighty donors of this world have asked that I should never be invited again to speak. May our ancestors have mercy on the donors.


Which reminds me of a peculiar case in colonial Ghana during the Second World War. A wise old man thought the war, at one point, wasn't going too well for the Allies and made his thoughts loudly known: "Hitler is going to win the war, if things continue this way," he said. Not too pleased with this franc-parler, the British colonial government dragged the old man to court. When his alleged offence was read to him in court, the old man turned slowly to the judge and asked him in pidgin English: "Sir, my mouth ibe gun?" (In Queen's English: "Is my mouth a gun?"--to help Hitler win the war?).

Until the sad ban at the Zimbabwe Book Fair, I didn't know that this small mouth of mine "ibe gun!" And what a gun! But never mind. My only regret is that the publication of my rapporteur general's report (NA, Oct and Nov) has disturbed the flow of the series I started here in the Aug/Sept issue on A Tale of Two Countries, comparing Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana at the time the metropolitan powers wanted him out of power, and Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe at this time the metropolitan powers want him out as well.

Two months is a long time in a column not appearing, but we can take consolation from the Eurostat, the European Union Statistical Yearbook 2003, which says: "Two things gain great respect over time: reliable facts and prestigious wine." The two-month fermentation period has given the facts you are going to read here this month even greater respect. So don't worry.

What is more, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger above: "The future of Africa is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the metropolitan powers." To me, the beauty is that the "concluding remarks" of my rapporteur general's report [NA, Nov--"Zimbabwe: Why donors cannot stand free speech (2)], was going to be the concluding piece of the series on A Tale of Two Countries. However, by a stroke of good luck, we have had the concluding piece even before this second instalment was written. Now it is my duty to take you back to where we left off (in Part One) in the Aug/Sept issue.

We were looking at the American and British declassified documents dealing with the period when they wanted Nkrumah out. Remember, Nkrumah wanted Ghana industrialised in one generation. He was also fighting for African unity and had put forward an 11-point proposal in his seminal speech at the OAU founding conference in Addis Ababa in 1963, a proposal which if Africa had implemented, people like Dirk Hoffman of London (see this month's Letters p7--If Africa were Tippexed from the Globe ...) would have no stomach today to write such cheeky letters or make snide remarks about Africa and Africans.

Do please allow me to remind you of Nkrumah's 11-point proposal. Remember this is May 1963--42 years ago!:

1. A union government of African states.

2. A common economic and industrial programme for Africa.

3. An African common market

4. A common African currency.

5. An African monetary zone.

6. An African central bank.

7. A continental communication system.

8. A common foreign policy and diplomacy.

9. A common system of defence.

10. A common African citizenship.

11. A common African army with an African high command.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that apart from a "union government", the Europeans (via the EU) have implemented every one of the 11 points put forward by Nkrumah. …

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