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Not that many ordinary people would have noticed, but today is Africa Day.
Ordinary people? The billion-plus just trying to make it through the day on this continent… as opposed to the politicians and their hangers on.
On this day in 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed as a way of telling the world that Africa’s time had arrived. And, as the winds of change blew over Africa and its countries shrugged off the shackles of colonialism, it looked as if that might be true.
Six decades on, though, Africa may be free of its colonial masters but, in many cases, its people are still dealing with a life of poverty, corruption and violence.
The initial years of independence saw coups, wars and famines – along with brutal dictators, one-party states, ruinous flirtation with communism and genocide relegating Africa to a basket case in the eyes of most of the world.
Yet, its people – blessed with strength, talent and resilience – have shone on the international stage, from sport to entertainment and art, as well as making their mark in technology and science. In other words, the people of Africa have managed to overcome their biggest handicap, which has been their leaders.
To look at the OAU, now the African Union (AU), however, you would think the continent is a roaring success. But the most successful thing the AU mandarins have managed is a world-beating skill at not rocking the boat and turning a blind eye.
That is why some of the worst brutalities on the con tinent have often gone unremarked by our leaders.
Now, of course, the debate is, sadly, increasingly around whether anyone who is not black can truly call themselves an African.
If you are committed to this continent, you are an African – and you are the people who will save Africa.
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