By Sanna Badjie & Rohey Fofana

We are privileged and honored to present this paper entitled: “Overcoming the challenges for a truly Liberated Africa” in respect of the commemoration of Africa’s Liberation day. A day for reaffirming our commitment to pan-Africanism; a day of reflecting  the realisation of a united Africa  envisioned by Kwame Nkrumah, who warned that, we either unite as Africans or perish.

It was a day to reflect on how Africa can achieved the maximum amount of cooperation while keeping the goal for continental unity in view all the time and economic independence envisioned by Julius Nyerere, Africa’s greatest philosopher and theoretician. The day symbolizes the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.

African states continue to experience obstacles that holds Africa’s development process in all social, economic and political dimensions. Leadership is a major problem in Africa. African experiences human degradation, political instability and economic exploitation, which are perpetrated by incompetent and illegible leaders holding the leadership positions in their countries.

The youngest country in Africa, South Sudan for example, today experiences  a devastating armed conflict which witnessed  the internal displacements of tens of thousands of  people, extra judicious killings, raped and other sexual activities, enforced disappearance  and hunger  perpetrated  by the Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan and his former vice president Dr. Riek Machar due to their lust for power.

The political crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country regarded as very wealthy in terms of resources, struggles to fun and update voters’ register and other electoral activities, which resulted to the unconstitutional extension of President Kabila’s presidency and thereby causing a lot of political disorder and the killing and displacement of many civilians.

The current political crisis in Cameroon in its English and French speaking regions caused by a historical tragedy of imperialism and the lack of an organized leadership to unify the country, plagued the country into a devastating armed conflict. However, these manifest the lack of leadership in Africa.

Africa need leaders who are intellectually and ethically mature and can examine and address the political rights and wrongs of all political, economics, and social agendas that will lead to the prosperity and unity of the continent and such leaders should possess  the following features:  transparency,wisdom, accountability, probity, selflessness and mercy.


Elections in Africa as Kofi Annan puts it in his BBC Hard Talk interview with Zainab Badawi  (2018), are meant to lead to peaceful and democratic rotation of leadership often cause violence.  This was manifested in Kenya’s 2007  election and the rivalry between the Luos and the Kikuyu tribes, recent South Sudan conflict which turned into an ethnic conflict between the Dinkas and the Neur, the 2016 post-election disturbances between the Jolas and the Mandinkas in the Gambia etc . If the process that should lead to a democratic process is turned into violent then the realization of African united becomes a distance goal to achieve.

However, there should be a total transformation of the parochial political culture or tribal alignment to political parties and the use of tribe and tribalism as political mobilization to win government power. Sovereign Africans should realized that  alignment to political parties should be based on ideological master plans  to make sure we entrust people in our political officers who have the knowledge and wisdom to lead and  ethically sound to fully represent our wishes and aspirations both nationally and internationally.


Neocolonialism is a strategy employed by our former colonial masters to continue controlling both our political and economic processes thereby undermining the pan-Africanist agenda of a united Africa  and compelled our African leaders who lack ideas, policies, and programmes to utilize our human and natural resources for development to compete for foreign aid in the re-branded and enticed  neocolonial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The Commonwealth etc.

The Gambian government under the stewardship  of Adama Barrow had sleepless nights to make sure Gambia is readmitted  into the Commonwealth  for possible aid and developmental assistance and recently flew to Brussels to beg for funds in a donor conference to fund the Gambia’s National Development Plan (2018-2021). His counterpart, Emerchine Managagwa of Zimbabwe  like  president Barrow,  is almost not sleeping to make sure his country is also readmitted into the Commonwealth in anticipation for aid to fun the forthcoming elections.

Another neocolonial institution that keeps interfering in our political and economic process is the IMF. The IMF as described by Nyerere (1985) in his interview with Anver Versi of The New African Magazine,“has become the substitute for a colonial empire controlling their economic. And will dawn upon the third world countries one day that they are not free”.  This neocolonial  institution was established in (1944 )to deal with problems of developed countries. It was never design to improve or deal with the problems of developing countries.

The African leadership should take note of Kwame Nkurumah’s assertions in his book Neocolonialism the last stage of imperialism (1965) that “the essence of neocolonialism is that state which is subjected to it, in theory, independent and has all trappings of international sovereignty. In reality, it economic system and political system is directed from outside”

Africa should however, put more of her energies as a continent in the cooperation and unity of African states as per the AU objectives of rekindling the passion for pan-Africanism, a sense of unity, self-reliant,  integration, and solidarity. We should respect and work harder to the realization of the 2018 Kigali protocol on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) , protocol on free movement of people, and  AU’s commitment for a Single Africa Air Transport Market among others which have the potentials to promote African economics and create millions of employment opportunities for young people in Africa.

Finally, As Prof. Baba Galleh Jallow put it in his paper The copycat state… presented at  the University of the Gambia in 2017: “Africa’s crises are linked to the failure  of Africa governments to transform in a creative manner the geopolitical , human and natural resources of the continent in respond to the challenges of independent nation statehood.”  That being, until we have an intellectually and ethically matured leadership  and critical pan-African citizenry , the challenges that is killing our energies as a continent for true liberation will triumph.

The authors are Political Science students at the University of the Gambia