What 2 Politics do we need to African Problems?

Africa has problems that vary from hunger to education, health facility and even accessibility to safe and clean water. In a nutshell, the continent is still down at the level of rank of needs. Despite the gravity of these African problems there is still a way out. This fact is a law of nature, there is nothing permanent except change. In that thinking then, the many problems facing the continent too can find solution. In this article, we invite you to ponder the solution as put forward by an African scholar:

African Problems – Politics

The phrase “African solutions to African problems” gained prominence after the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) transformed into the African Union (AU) in 2001. Due to the desire to revive a continent that was marginalised and exploited for centuries owing to slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, destabilisation, oppression, war and hunger, poor governance and socio-economic development, it has become a mantra for policymakers in Africa (AU 2013: 34).


Concern about the challenges the continent faces have contributed towards “African solutions to African problems … to show that Africa has both the capability and determination to solve problems” (Lobakeng 2017:1). It is relevant to wide-ranging issues, from development, education and health to peace and security. It conjures amalgamating politics with action; placing emphasis on pride, indigeneity, self-reliance, taking ownerships and responsibility (Nathan 2013: 48-49). As a result, consensus on continental integration as part of the solution is also growing amongst policymakers, academics, analysts, and civil society.

African Solution

However, the emphasis on African solutions, and that it is imperative for African nations to forge an independent path to prosperity and economic well-being, is not a recent idea and was a strong motivating force behind early Pan-African movements. In 1897, Henry Sylvester-Williams (Trinidadian law student in Britain), Alice Kinloch (from Kimberley, South Africa) and Thomas J. Thompson (a law student in Britain from Sierra Leone) founded the African Association (later the Pan-African Association), seeking to stimulate unity amongst Africans and those of African descent.


In July 1900 the first Pan-African Conference was hosted in the Westminster Town Hall, London (Killingray 2012:394 and 401). It could be regarded as a significant initial use of the term Pan-African and an early effort to unite the voice of people from all over Africa and in the diaspora. As an early success for modern Pan-Africanism, it became a blueprint for many anti-colonialist movements during the 20th century (Anyoku and Anani-Isaac 2019). During the twentieth century, the quest for independence from colonial authorities continued and in 1958, the newly independent Republic of Ghana hosted the All-African Peoples’ Congress in Accra.


It was a great success and inspired further struggles for independence and self-determination in Africa. However, in the Cold War context of the post-Second World War world era, the ideals of non-aligned independent African states that were politically and economically united, were quickly usurped by great power politics and neo-colonial relationships (Mbeki 1998; Anyoku and Anani-Isaac 2019).

Progressive Africa -politics

The dreams of progressive African visionaries from more than a century ago endured, and after the end of the Cold War their ideas received new impetus. Sadly, though, in the 1990s it was also stimulated by the inability of the content and the failure of the international community to effectively deal decisively with violent conflicts, in the aftermath of the devasting genocide in Rwanda as well as the collapse of the state in Somalia.


African leaders resolved to develop indigenous solutions to problems emerging on the continent and end the reliance on being rescued by the UN in calamitous situations (Apuuli 2012; and Nathan 2013:49). With the creation of the AU in 2001, the idea of African solutions to African problems gripped policymakers as African leaders acknowledged that the scourge of conflicts “constitutes a major impediment to the socio-economic development of the continent” and the need to “promote peace, security and stability as a prerequisite” for development and integration (AU 2000: 3).

African Union – Politics

This was based on the recognition that due to is non-interventionist approach, the OAU failed in the area of conflict resolution and a culture of indifference was cultivated in international relations among African countries. With the establishment of the AU, a much more interventionist stance was taken, and meaningful institutions and regulatory frameworks were created to tackle peace and security challenges, with some states and leaders effectively contributing to seeking ways to end crises (Lobakeng 2017:7). The AU is more robust than its predecessor, with improved mandates for coordinated solutions to continental challenges and a focus on respect of democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance (Apuuli 2012; and Ani 2018).


By the beginning of the 21st century, ideas around an African Renaissance were strongly articulated. This emanated from Thabo Mbeki, a former South African president, who emphasised that Africa has a “legitimate right to expect that it has the capacity to set itself free from the oppressive historical legacy of poverty, hunger, backwardness and marginalization” and the efforts “to ensure the restoration … of peace, stability, prosperity, and intellectual creativity, will and must succeed!” (Mbeki 1998).

Pillars of leadership – Politics

He placed much emphasis on establishing and maintaining democracy, good governance, transparency and accountability to limit corruption and the abuse of power. Of relevance is the discrepancy between holding elections and perpetuating authoritarian rule, as some elections may not necessarily lead “to liberal democracy”. Elected governments have abused “individual rights and deprived people of liberty” (Solomon 2015:46-47), or as the case of Côte d’Ivoire showed in 2010, leaders might refuse to accept election outcomes. After the subsequent AU mediation failed, international involvement effected an outcome (Lobakeng 2017:3).

African Renaissance – Politics

In his thinking on the African Renaissance, Mbeki also highlighted regional security, peace and stability, the prevention and resolution of conflicts and the building of regional peace-making and peacekeeping capacity; stating that stability and sound economic policies will stimulate economic growth (Mbeki 1998). Although Africa is plagued by various traditional and non-traditional security threats, the AU’s security architecture has contributed towards promoting peace and security on the continent (Solomon 2015:45).


Again, as Mbeki already indicated more than two decades ago, regional economic integration, equitable global trade agreements, a future free-trade area and the development of infrastructure will together contribute towards reducing poverty and unemployment, access to good education, adequate healthcare, decent housing, as well as clean water and sanitation. Mbeki placed emphasis on creating a non-racial and non-sexist society (“the genuine and all-round emancipation of women”) and the defence and promotion of human rights; indicating that in Africa we must “discharge our responsibilities to ourselves” and in the process cooperate “with all nations to meet … common challenges” (Mbeki 1998).


From the argument above, you will realise that the continent has capable thinkers and scholars what lacks is only the political will to implement the solutions proposed by the scholars.

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