WARC Public Lectures Series: Prof Abdoulaye Bathily: L’Afrique, un Continent Convoité, face aux Défis de ses Choix Unitaires
After Abdoulaye Bathily, the retired professor emeritus from the Department of History, University Cheikh Anta Diop, but also the veteran political leader and goverment senior minister in several Senegalese cabinets and lately an excellent but unfortunate contender for the African Union Commissioner’s seat, was introduced, he engaged in a historical survey of the position of Africa in the world.
In the 9th and 10th century, travelers in the Arab empire built by Islam had a saying according to which “anybody going to Africa was assured to be forever cured from the disease called poverty”. Earlier on, in the 3rd century, Chinese and Persian geographers alike had already sketched the map of Africa.
The covetous curiosity of world powers for Africa and its untapped wealth goes back to times almost immemorial in human history, according to the historian Bathily. In modern history and as early as the 15th and 16th centuries, the Amerindian genocide led european powers to engage in the black slave trade and later in 1884-1885, the Berlin Conference carved Africa like a Christmas cake to be shared by the guests of the German Chancellor of the day, Otto Von Bismarck.
Starting from 2000, the first year of the 21st century, interest in Africa for developing countries has been rekindled at a time when the continent has already been further weakened by structural adjustment policies and raw material export-oriented economies. It is also to be noted that the continent is a 32 billion dollar worth marked for food products particularly imported from Europe, China etc…..
Meanwhile, the strategic partnerships entered by african countries with developing nations do not make room for the national private sectors in an economic context in which the various african states are weak.
Thus, the need for continental unity as advocated by the first Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah, at the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity in Addis. On the occasion, Nkrumah gave a memorable speech crowned with the statement “Africa Must Unite!”.
Curently, the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, has been mandated by his african peers, to review the operations and policies of the African Union as an continental organization and come up with strategic recommendations to speed up the process of african integration. It is to be hoped that there will be a very strong political will from african leaders and a determined commitment from the african people to push and lay the ground for a united Africa for Africa.
The lecture which took place at the West African Research Center (WARC) was also co-organized by the Provisional International Initiative Committee for African Unity (Senegal branch) and gathered no less than 55 people.