Author: Shaka Bello, January 14 2014 It is true that the best way to determine the greatness of a leader is by the legacy he or she leaves behind. Since the demise of Nelson Mandela, I have been reflecting on some of the values and principles he espoused, which endeared him to whole world, and how they can be applied to contemporary African development. In comparing him to the greatest African of the century, Kwame Nkrumah, it is obvious that Mandela won the heart of the entire world in pursuing his agenda. While Nkrumah pursued a continental agenda, Mandela was more of a nationalist. The former left behind a disunited Africa mainly because he had both external and internal detractors. On the other hand, the latter left behind a prosperous and buoyant South African economy, thanks to the general goodwill he enjoyed within and outside Africa. I am not in any way suggesting that Mandela did not experience any external opposition.
I understand that the times, circumstances and agendas were different, but Mandela was more successful because he used forgiveness, love, tolerance, and an all inclusive approach in his quest to quell European hegemony. In my opinion, that should be the style of modern day Pan-Africanists, what I'd call the new face of Pan-Africanism.
In this era of globalization, the days of preaching hate and dissent against other races are over. Africa's success will not be determined by its resentment towards other races. Africans can develop the continent and still love and tolerate other races at the same time, both are not mutually exclusive. I still feel the hurt and see the scars of slavery and colonialism, and I know many people of African descent do, but we need to let go. We need to get rid of the colonial attitude and mindset of pursuing African development where Africans believe that the only way to progress is to seek retributive justice. Yes, we need to redefine Pan-Africanism in the context of African development. We need to include more non-Africans in the struggle for African prosperity. South Africa would have ended up like Zimbabwe if Mandela had sacked the European settlers after the end of Apartheid. It hurts to say this but I can't point to even a single African country that has prospered without external help. Some will point to Libya under Gaddafi but that is an isolated case and even debatable because the Libyan leader had Western allies. Yes, there may be economic disparities in South Africa but South Africa is far better off than many other African countries. Of course, African Unity is crucial and "African solutions to African problems" sounds compelling and politically correct but wait a minute, can anyone tell me one concrete achievement of the African Union? I'm afraid; we need more than African solutions to solve African problems. That's the sad reality....We need an all hands on deck approach. After all, all of African's problems are not caused by Africans. We can't afford to leave off the hook the architects of the African predicament. We need to involve the West more in our development issues. I'm neither calling for a re-colonization of Africa or a total dependence on the West. All I'm asking for is that, Africans need to work hand in hand with the Western world as development partners and play an active role in making decisions that affect the destiny of the continent. The current trend of the West handing down aid to Africans and issuing stern conditionalities appears to be counter-productive and needs to change. As we pursue African unity, we need to organize and demand that the West help fix the mess they created many years ago. It’s only with Unity of purpose and togetherness that we can rid Africa of its plethora of problems. Let’s build Africa the Mandela way.