The African Diaspora Forum (ADF) wants the African Union reconfigured and more power given to its secretariat.  It’s not the first time the rights group is making the plea.

The ADF’s call comes as Africa celebrates Africa Month, which marks the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963. That day, now known as Africa Day, saw 32 representatives of independent nations of Africa signing the OAU Charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – which advocated for Pan-Africanism. It’s since been renamed the African Union.

Government says the month is a time of reflection, celebrating gains made since Africa was freed from the shackles of oppression through colonialism and apartheid. Presidency spokesperson Khuselo Diko says it is also meant at looking at challenges that lie ahead, including the deepening democracy and increasing Intra-African Trade.

African Diaspora Forum chairperson, Dr Vusimuzi Sibanda believes there’s little to celebrate. He says human rights abuses on the continent are too glaring to ignore. Dr Sibanda says African leaders have failed to address structural and economic challenges caused by colonial rule and believes inculcating the culture of accountability among African leaders is a first step towards changing the fortunes of the continent. He says the establishment of a regional court like the International Criminal Court (ICC) will ensure that leaders who abuse and steal from national coffers are brought to book.

Director at the Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society, Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah, agrees with Dr Sibanda. He believes the AU is not for the development of the African people, but to serve the interests of its funders.

Young graduate, Thabang Nkgweng believes the injection of young blood within the continent’s leadership could help Africa discover her potential and reclaim her glory on the global stage.

“So far we’ve had the same people for too long and of course what they are doing is not working. We need new people, young leaders; people who are not greedy. People who understand the concept of government of the people by the people. We can’t have a situation where a health system of the country collapse and a leader flies to another Switzerland or wherever they are flown. We want leaders who understand that upliftment is for everyone.”

Political analyst Sanusha Naidu concurs.

The Africa we want

The AU’s goal for the next 50 years is to create the ‘Africa we want’. This is aimed at erasing the legacy of oppression and poverty that has besieged the continent for decades. African leaders believe this will be achieved through the inculcation of the principle of self-reliance, Africa financing its own development and highlight the importance of capable, inclusive and accountable states and institutions.  However, corruption continues to overshadow these ambitious plans.

Nkgweng says she wants an Africa that is united, respects and sees women as equal to men; a continent that takes pride in who she is and the diverse cultures she possesses. The 25-year-old believes the whole of Africa should have shown solidarity with athlete, Caster Semenya when she was ridiculed by the IAAF’s new rules. She says the decolonisation of our education system is a good place to start the journey of self-love for Africans. “I wish our curriculum taught us about Patrice Lumumba and other Africans who stood up for something, Africans who are strong and maybe it would change our perception for us to know what it means to be African and that if he could do it, then why can’t I do it.”

Naidu says Africa is still far off from changing her story. She says inequality is one of the most pressing issues that need to be urgently addressed. According to World Hunger, about 27.4% of the population in Africa was classified as severely food insecure in 2016, which is almost four times as high as any other region. Alarmingly, food insecurity is on the rise, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa. This while most of the continent’s leaders live in luxury.

Naidu says there’s no quick fix to the problems facing the continent and she’s lost hope at seeing the rich resources the continent boosts trickling down to the poor.

While the continent continues to grapple with finding solutions to its cocktail of problems, Dr Sibanda is encouraging Africans to unite and work together in plucking the continent out of its dark past and fight the scourge of corruption wherever it raises its ugly head.

Watch related video of Presidency Spokesperson Khuselo Diko on Africa month: