« The African federation, a crucial emergency », Théophile OBENGA


As part of the debates organized by the Collective for African Renewal (Cora), prominent African intellectuals have defended the urgency for the continent to move towards a federal state to exist in an increasingly competitive world.

Where is pan-Africanism today? This was the question posed yesterday as part of the series of debates organized by the Collective for African Renewal (Cora). To discuss it, there were eminent intellectuals of the continent, including the Congolese,  »disciple » of Cheikh Anta Diop, Théophile Obenga.

According to Obenga, the only way for Africa to find salvation is through federalism. In a firm tone, the Egyptologist railed: « We have wasted too much time. We have to know that as long as there is no federal state, we will be even more enslaved. I don’t know why people are so afraid to go in this direction! Let’s take the example of the Chinese; they believed in it and became strong. Today, they are a big state that everyone respects and listens to… Africa can be as strong and respected, but only if it adopts federation. This is a crucial emergency.

Yesterday, Cora encouraged people to revisit the work of the « founding fathers » who did everything they could to ensure that Africa could speak with one voice. But the observation remains the same, according to the various speakers. Sixty years after independence, the continent has still not emerged from the path traced by the Berlin Conference at the end of the 19th century. And to make matters worse, pan-Africanist sentiment has been fading over the years. The federalist idea of a politically united continent seems to be in a particularly bad state, while the various economic integration initiatives have been timid and have so far failed to significantly reduce the continent’s military, diplomatic, technological, economic and financial dependence, » Cora notes in the concept paper.

In the same vein, the panelists were invited to answer several questions, namely: how to put this pan-Africanist agenda at the center of political priorities of governments and struggles of African peoples?

For Prof. Obenga, the answer to all these questions necessarily involves breaking the umbilical link with the West. He proclaims loud and clear: « We must get rid of colonization. The West will never come to develop our countries. They have no interest in it and do not want Africa to develop. Besides, nobody will come to develop our countries in our place. We must forget our fears and move forward. We have no choice.

According to the historian, the work must begin by giving itself the means to be independent. It is « unacceptable », he believes, that the African Union is funded by its European counterpart. We must give ourselves the means to be independent. Kwame Nkrumah would never have accepted this. Unfortunately, it is Africans who often betray Africa.

In the opinion of the Congolese writer, the continent has everything to develop. It just needs to believe in it and to be united. If the West could arrive at this stage, it is because they had to plunder the resources of the African countries, to benefit from the free work of the Blacks. And to affirm: « There is no crime in wanting to be free. We are not against humanity. But there is an urgent need to build a single state that will bring together all the others. We have no more time to lose. The AU must create a commission of jurists, sociologists, historians, to try to make a project of an African federal state.

In order to build a federal state, it is necessary to have pan-Africanists. To achieve this, the best way is education, according to the panelists. We must educate our youth to have pan-Africanist leaders in 10 years, » said Amzat Boukari Yabara. He said pan-Africanism must be installed in power to meet the challenge of federalism. We need a policy of pressure, to go to referendums, if necessary, to ask the people to decide on sovereignty. The cause of pan-Africanism can only triumph if it broadens its scope and mobilizes more people. It is also necessary that those who believe in it can mobilize within the movements to meet the challenge.

For his part, Lewis Gordon focused on the need to take into account the context of the 21st century, to work effectively in this dynamic. He explained: « We must ask ourselves what are the problems facing our continent, in our time. We have technologies that allow us to reduce space. We speak, today, of pan-Africanism, in a planet that has become very small, where distances are considerably reduced thanks to technology. Before, it was not the same thing and I think that this could facilitate the task more ». According to him, the current model pushes the African populations into a form of infantilisation that should be corrected.

Source: L’Enquête +


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