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Speeches

United Africa: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.’’

Speech delivered on Saturday, February 12, 2011 in Silver Spring, MD at a Conference organized by The Revival of Panafricanism Forum

United Africa: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.’’
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with a heart full of gratitude and humility that I stand here before you this afternoon to welcome you to one of our conferences.  I know that we are already in the Valentine day atmosphere and yet you are here.  I appreciate your commitment to our common cause.

Africa is increasingly taking a central role in international affairs.  Last year 17 African countries celebrated their Golden Jubilee. This year there is to be at least 17 elections across the continent.  The world is taken by surprise by the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt, where the leaders of those countries who have been in power for respectively for 23 and 30 years have resigned.  Today, the people of Algeria have started their movement of protests.  Yes, the Arab world is shaking but Africa is shaking too, as the countries I just mentioned are on the continent of Africa.  There is a hurricane of change and mass protests of people taking to the streets to challenge democratic governments and oppressive governments.  That movement of change will hopefully and certainly touch many other Sub Saharan African countries and other parts of the world.  There is a new order on the planet.  How do we play a role and direct those mass protests to meet the need of the African masses?

I hear and all of us hear many among us denouncing colonialism, imperialism, and neocolonialism.  Those who do so use various theories to describe the living conditions of Africans and peoples of African descent and to justify the state of development in our community.

They understand the world.  But the adage says ‘’it is not enough to understand the world, we must change it. ‘’ So if we understand the world and why there 200 million Africans who are chronically hungry, and why there are civil wars, civil unrest, we know that we need to act and do something.  If we understand that we are divided because of our own flaws and because of external forces and factors, we know that we have to promote in our midst an ideology of collectivism and unity.

That is why my friends and I have been working diligently and on a daily basis in order to promote a new vision for Africa, which a novel articulation of panafricanism we call “The Vision for the Redemption of Africa.”  We intend to build a global alliance in the 21st century in order to tackle Africa’s and the African Diaspora’s challenges.  I will not elaborate on the vision today, but I will just say that we have decided to give legs to our ideas by creating some tools, which will help promote the vision.

The first tool is “The Revival of Panafricanism”, we launched four years ago in 2007.  The Revival of Panafricanism Forum is the cradle of a new panafrican consciousness.  It is one among many tools of our action plan, which is a roadmap to the Grand African Historical Reconstruction.  If we understand the world, we also understand why we create this forum in order to foster a panafrican scholarship and to elevate an African collective consciousness.  Moreover, this forum is also a viable and vibrant network of peoples of all walks of life and expertise, from diverse races, religions, and ethnic groups who have in common a commitment to build Africa.  
As our primary purpose is to create a critical mass of servants, Africans, peoples of African descent, and peoples of non-African descent who care about Africa, we are open to partner with any other group of individuals, panafricanists or not, who pursue similar goals and who strive to improve the living conditions on the continent of Africa.  
My friends and I are not perfect servants.  We certainly reflect African idiosyncrasies and human beings flaws.  We might not be worthy servants either, but we are pursuing a noble vision to redeem Africa, namely, politically, spiritually, culturally, economically.  We are on a mission to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to bring to fruition a worthy cause, which is building a united Africa.
Africa will not be redeemed by some aliens coming from a planet of giants.  We might not have the luxury to have a Nelson Mandela to lead us on our journey to the redemption of Africa.  This can be done by ordinary people, as we witnessed it in Cairo and in Tunisia.  The leaders we praise or condemn are men in the arena who have tried and who have experienced joy and defeat.  Irrespective of their fate, they will be remembered as people who tried.

Echoing what the poet June Jordan wrote I say “we are the ones we have been waiting for’’, as I stress that “it is not enough to understand the world, we must change it.”
To the cynical and skeptical I will say this:
We have lived long enough to see the fall and crumbling of fierce dictatorships, in Africa, and to see the sudden end of everlasting rule of leaders, whose names and faces were associated with eternity.  
We have lived long enough to witness the ascension to power of Nelson Mandela in a country under a perceived perennial white rule for more than 300 years.  
We have lived long enough to see the ascension to power of the first African American president in the 221 years of the United States of America, Barack Obama.  He was audacious enough to change the story maybe not the history of a country, whose original sin was slavery, and whose past was marked by segregation and lynching, whose present is still tainted with the stigmas of racial and social discrimination.

We have lived long enough to see the descendants of the citizens of Carthage and of the great pharoanic civilization give to freedom its true meaning and give to ‘’the power of one” its true essence.

We are still on planet earth.  It does not matter how we failed, how we came short, how our leaders might have done better.

We need to embrace the power of choice; and decide today, when the walls of real dictatorship fall in Northern Africa, how we can improve civilization, by promoting in our midst an African collective consciousness, how we can shape a better future, how we can bring together peoples who have suffered from division, tribalism, and individualism, in a collective framework in order to build a united Africa.
We can build a united and prosperous Africa because “unity is the law of God.’’ Our task needs not to start tomorrow but today.  It is not our neighbors and future generations, but us and our generation, because we are the ones we have been waiting for. Thank you.

United we rise,
Together for a better Africa!  
God Redeem Africa!
Gnaka Lagoke, Ph.D.h
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