It is 4th of July today and Americans all over the world are celebrating their nation’s independence from the Great Britain. My own country Tanzania (formerly known as Tanganyika) and the United States have at least one thing in common – both nations became independent from the Great Britain – ironically, most of the world became independent from the British. While America’s independence came in the 18th century, Tanzania became “independent” in December of the year 1961.
I have always had a problem with the use of the term independent, because a nation only becomes independent if only it was previously dependent. Tanzania did not depend on the British before December 1961, it (Tanzania) only suffered in the hand of the British colonial establishment. As a matter of fact the British depended on Tanzania for labor, cheap raw materials, and assured markets for their processed goods.
However, the positions changed following the attainment of flag (political but not economic) independence in Tanzania. Tanzania, while gaining flag and arguably political independence, lost its economic freedom as Tanzania’s economy (from production to market from exports as well as source of foreign exchange) remained tied to the Britain’s.
African countries like Tanzania still suffer from the relationships created during colonialism – relationships that were sustained in different forms following “independence.” The African Economist recently published and article on how the French government financially and economically, enslave West African economies.
Such a state of affairs shows that so long as the so referred to as “independent” African countries fail to attain genuine and secure economic independence, imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism will always try by every means to use their monopoly positions to carry out intervention, control and even subversion. Only when genuine economic independence has been achieved, particularly when an independent national economy has been established by self-reliance, is it possible to smash the pressure, obstruction and sabotage of the imperialists, colonialists and neo-colonialists and establish secure and full political independence.
I am not advocating for Africa’s disintegration from the world as I do not believe that any such economy will prosper. But I am calling upon African leaders to implement policies that will allow Africans to have control over their economies – control that still remain in the hands of the former colonialists. One such policy is the promotion of intra-African trade which lags behind for reasons that are hard to fathom. Whilst it may be hard to envision Kwame Nkrumah’s “United States of Africa,” there is still life in the phrase “United We Stand
Without secure and full political independence, genuine economic independence is impossible; without genuine economic independence, secure and full political independence cannot last. In other words, political independence is the precedent for economic independence, while economic independence is the basis for political independence.
“Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. … in disunity, by creating a political union which will also by its success, stand as an example to a divided world.” – Kwame Nkrumah
For Americans all over the world, we say, Happy 4th of July.
For Africans, and all that share the excitement, promise, and cautious optimism associated with such wide a vast land, so diverse and talented a people…we certainly hope that you continue to make each day an: