Given the support that South Africans received during their independence struggles from the rest of Africa, the way they have responded afterwards is the cause of much disappointment. To me this was a very strong dose of realism which led to my initial disillusionment with Pan Africanism. Here were the people who were the recipients of Africa’s great generosity and solidarity, and yet they turned out to be just as predatory, disrespectful and xenophobic towards the rest of Africa as the rest of the world. If their experience could not deliver greater solidarity and feeling of brotherhood with the rest of Africa, what will?

The Pragmatist’s understanding of history is that the nation should focus on itself, its interests, its development if possible to the exclusion of all others. Don’t make sacrifices unless there is something to be gained from it. Unfortunately, even with these experiences we still repeat the mistakes. Greg Mills writes in Why Africa is Poor (pp. 441-2):

“Africa has the biggest voting bloc in the UN, WTO and other bodies. But what does it trade its votes for? Help for Cuba and Palestinians… and manoeuvring around tougher action on Burma and Iran. None of this does one bit for Africa or Africans… Imagine if the Africans used their votes as strategically as the Eastern Europeans did in their campaign for both NATO and EU membership… In the absence of such a strategy, it was going to be difficult to change the attitude that it was not worth talking seriously to Africa since the bloc was ideologically locked into its positions. Until the Africans are prepared to use their voting power… to advance the interests of their own people…the posturing…conferences, not commitments, will rule the day.”

While Tanzania has sacrificed gains from its relationship with Israel, more development assistance from increased alliance with the West because of Palestinians and the rest, the fact is it is very unlikely that they will even write Tanzanians as footnotes in their history books when they achieve their objectives. Our naivety is beyond measure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: