Africa must unite?

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There was a time when African governments and citizens of individual nations were focused on a common cause – removing the scourge of Apartheid from the legal system of South Africa. In those days, dissidents from the disenfranchised Black majority populace of that country were accommodated in other African nations and the governments did what they could to support the Anti-Apartheid struggle. Eventually, the laws were changed in South Africa and there was a feeling of global euphoria when Nelson Mandela was released from incarceration and then elected as the nation’s President.

At that point in time, I remember the erstwhile freedom fighters inviting other people of African descent to join them in building the South Africa of their dreams. Quite a few folks decided to take them on their word and emigrated to that part of the world.

After a while, it became clear that this initial call was probably only rhetorical. Nowadays the mood music seems to be different, as the indigenous South Africans are not happy to see so many Black people from other parts of the world in their country, contributing to the economy and possibly competing with them for jobs. This has led to some conflicts that should have been anticipated and contained by the South African government.

South Africans are not alone in acting this way. Similar things happened in Nigeria in the early 1980s, regarding the presence of Ghanaians. In the 1970s, large numbers of people of Nigerian heritage were expelled from Ghana. In Ivory Coast of recent years, there has also been a tendency to antagonise and exclude fellow Africans who might originate from neighbouring countries.

African Americans are not as vociferous as their current president in expressing xenophobic views about other Black people, but there have been rumblings on social media platforms for at least the last decade about their dissatisfaction with the presence of Africans, whom they suggest should be staying in their lands of origin, to develop them.

Whatever happened to the Pan African dream? Should we be revising our opinions about the feasibility of such a notion?