WHEN the then Organisation of African Unity was formed in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it had very clear objectives. In its Charter, the OAU sought to "work for unity and solidarity among African nations; encourage Africans to plan and act together; defend the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of African states; and get rid of all forms of colonialism".
The late Ghanaian leader, Kwame Nkrumah, almost lost his voice teaching that "Africa must unite".
Last Friday, the OAU, now called the African Union, turned 44 years. Judging from its posture at 44, it seems as if Africa thinks that the fight against imperialism ended with the attainment of political independence.
The solidarity and the vigilance that the continent’s founding fathers used to fight colonialism has disappeared. At times, one is tempted to think that Africa has given up.
The African Union seems to have been hijacked by the imperialists. The current AU chairman, President John Kufuor, faces a formidable challenge to steer the AU back to its founding principles. Clearly, some bodies affiliated to the AU have been infiltrated.
In February this year, I was in Addis Ababa where I attended the AU Summit and after what I saw there, I came back home to write a story with a stinging headline that said: "Don’t surrender AU to the dogs". My heart was bleeding as I left Addis Ababa.
It was difficult to understand why the Union had decided to lose both its "teeth and direction" in Ethiopia, the country where it was formed. While Sudan was burning, while Somalia was burning and while Zimbabwe is under siege, the AU came up with decisions and declarations that appeared as if it had forgotten the reasons why it was formed.
Instead of taking firm decisions to tackle problems in Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, the Union just noted "with satisfaction the recent positive development in Somalia", urged the government of "Sudan and the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) to do their utmost to ensure the scrupulous and speedy implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement".
On Zimbabwe, there was dead silence. If Nkrumah was still alive, would he let Britain and the US orchestrate an economic war against the people of Zimbabwe? If Patrice Lumumba was alive would he just keep quiet as the West demonises President Mugabe?
While all these worrying developments were taking place, Africa chose to give the chairmanship of the AU to President Kufuor and before the dust had settled, the Ghanaian leader seemed to have been "pocketed by the imperialists".
Maybe the editor of the New African magazine, Baffour Ankomah, who is also a Ghanaian, can best describe what has happened to President Kufuor.
Writing in the May 2007 issue of the New African magazine, Ankomah said: "To the shame of all discerning Ghanaians, our country, the land of Nkrumah, the torch-bearer of African liberation, our beloved Ghana, is fast becoming the ‘weakest link’ in the African liberation/solidarity chain."
Ankomah went on to tell the story of a Ghanaian he had met in Zimbabwe who told him that there were some Americans who were claiming that "we have President Kufuor" in their fight against Zimbabwe.
He moaned: "We used to be the ones that the rest of Africa looked up to. No, the Americans can’t have President Kufuor. He is ours. He belongs to Ghana and Africa. A son of the African soil?"
I have met Ankomah on many occasions and I know he loves his motherland so much. Something big would have really gone wrong for him to express such concern.
Has the chairman of the AU been turned into an "American boy?" Has President Kufuor found the American wine too good to resist? Nkrumah must be rolling angrily in his grave.
Fortunately, the Ghanaian Foreign Minister, Mr Nana Akufo-Addo, seems to have seen the light. Speaking to journalists after his meeting with European Union officials in Belgium recently, Mr Akufo-Addo said: "We can’t have a situation where people pick and choose what Africans they will deal with if they try to deal with Africa on a continental basis. It is a summit and if it’s a summit, Zimbabwe comes at the level of its leader or somebody in a representative capacity."
This followed spirited attempts by the United States and the United Kingdom to have Zimbabwe excluded from the summit that is set for December this year.
Unfortunately, there are not so many Akufo-Addos in Africa and the imperialists are having a field day.
Africa should know that the West will not easily let go this continent because of its riches. Remember in 1968, Portugal’s Marcelo Caetano said: "Africa is for us a moral justification and a raison d’etre as a power. Without it we would remain a small nation, with it we are a great power."
While in the past, the imperialists would sit around the table and "partition Africa" this time those methods can’t work and so they will use covert means to maintain their grip on the continent.
One of the methods is to dangle the carrot in front of gullible Africans so that they turn against their own people. The other method is to infiltrate African institutions like the African Union so that they betray the causes of the organisation.
Recently, the Pan African Parliament, though it has no legislative powers, showed that it had been hijacked by the imperialists when it passed a resolution to send what it called a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe to investigate human rights abuse allegations against the country.
In passing this resolution, the parliament had relied on information distributed to them by the MDC and the Crisis Coalition, groupings that are known to be destabilisation projects formed by the imperialists.
Fortunately, sense later prevailed and reports from Midrand, South Africa, indicate that some members of this parliament said Zimbabwe should be given a chance to solve its problems without interference from many outsiders.
But the fact that the parliament had passed that resolution is enough testimony that the institution has either been infiltrated or has willingly lost direction. For why would the parliament send its mission to Zimbabwe when Sadc has already made a commitment and initiated a process to assist Zimbabwe to solve its problems?
The parliamentarians turned a blind eye to the fact that the fight against Zimbabwe by the US and the UK is a fight against the whole continent.
But speaking in Tanzania, South African President Thabo Mbeki said: "The fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe, tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola, it will be any other African country.
"And any government that is perceived to be strong, and to be resistant to imperialists, would be made a target and would be undermined. So let us not allow any point of weakness in the solidarity of Sadc, because that weakness will also be transferred to the rest of Africa."
President Mugabe summed it up well: "The success of Zimbabwe is Africa’s success. So our stand, as a fight, should be seen as an African cause."
If only the rest of the leadership in Africa could speak out and act so firmly against the imperialists.
Without sounding like an alarmist, I think Africa is in big trouble. While in the rest of the world there is a new breed of leaders who can speak out and defy American orders, in Africa there is a new breed of leaders who are selling out the continent.
In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is giving America all sorts of problems because he will not sell out his country. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is doing the same.
In Africa the new breed of leaders are so afraid of the US and the UK such that the closest they will get to attacking Mr George Bush and Mr Tony Blair is to clap hands when the two leaders are being attacked by President Mugabe.
Africa should arise and shine! The battle has not been lost.
***THE SUNDAY MAIL FROM ZM