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This article is based on Julius Malema’s speech at the launch of the Pan-African Institute in Kenya on 9 November 2023

I was humbled and honoured when I was invited to address the launch of the prestigious Pan-African Institute, which is targeted at creating intellectual collaboration and unity amongst the people of the continent. The initiative is necessary and long overdue in light of the importance for the continent to reclaim its intellectual and academic identity within the global community in general.

It is a known fact that ideas are at the core of the African capacity to chart its own destiny within the communities of the world. Intellectual sovereignty has to be forged through research and development that is steeped in African experiences, African problems, and African questions. Euro-America is never going to fund African intellectual sovereignty, as that project would undermine their agenda to control our resources.

Prof. Lumumba remains inspirational on this initiative and the onus is now on us sons and daughters of the continent, both based here and in the diaspora, to jealously fund this institute and ensure that it charts a unique, African-based intellectual path.

I remain inspired by the fact that the Institute’s concept of Pan-Africanism includes all people of African descent. That is, those in the continent, the Americas, Caribbean Islands, Europe, and Asia. Africans are treated as an inferior race wherever they are found.

We can never forget the violent, genocidal, and catastrophic Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism are the historical twin towers that paint an image of the African as black and sub-human. African communities were plundered, captured against their will and chained like animals. This forged a false identity of an African people that requires white intervention to handle their own affairs.

As both an intellectual project and a programme of revolutionary change, Pan-Africanism is first the recognition of this terrible history, which by all definitions, remains a world history that has cast the African into a global identity of inferiority among peoples of the world.

Pan-Africanism is the never forgotten noise of the painful cries of those captured slaves whose black bodies were swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean from the slave ships. Pan-Africanism is also the anger emanating from the countless defeats suffered by the patriots, brave soldiers like those of the Mao-Mao and Bambatha rebellion, defeated at the hands of brutal British colonial forces.

It is the intellectual heritage of Marcus Garvey, W.E Du Bios, Charlotte Maxeke, and many other great Africans who have given birth to the likes of our own Prof. Lumumba. And together with us all, must carry the mantle of the Pan-Africanist call.

Pan-Africanism is the one-party state of Africa as a whole, as professed by Marcus Garvey. It is Kwame Nkurumah’s African Socialism, Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness, and Julius Nyerere’s Ujama. It is also Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance. It is the architectural achievements from the pyramids of Egypt, to the cities of Mapungubwe. It is the industrial inventions by Garrett Morgan (traffic lights), Frederick McKinley Jones (refrigerated trucks), and Alexander Miles (automatic elevator doors). It is the cultural movements in our music genres and it is evident in our literature and beautiful artworks. It is the culmination of all these things.

In the pages of France Fanon’s ‘Wretched of the Earth’ lays a critique which, since independence in the 1950 to this day, leaders of African people have failed to give programmatic responses.

The Pan-African call is a call for African unity, not cooperation, collaboration or coexistence. And although the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was a step in the right direction, the fact that the founding conference failed to unite the African continent is a historical blunder.

Presidents Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Touré, and Emperor Haile Selassie prophetically said that failure to unite the African continent will give rise to neo-colonialism and that the African continent will perish.

The Revolutionary Pan-Africanists’ ideological and political diagnosis of the future was correct. The future is here and 50 years later, we know that we remain visitors in our own continent, with our mineral wealth firmly in the hands of Europeans and Americans.

A 2016 report titled, ‘The New Colonialism’, reveals the fact that “there are 101 British companies (listed on the London Stock Exchange) that control an identified $1.05 trillion worth of resources in Africa in just five commodities—oil, gold, diamonds, coal, and platinum”. This is a very conservative figure since it includes resources listed by only some companies. Many companies provide few or no figures on the resources they control. This is reflective of British neo-colonialism that has been allowed to continue on our continent.

The Portuguese continue to play a significant economic role in both Mozambique and Angola. The French continue to micromanage all the countries that were their colonies, except the recently liberated zones of Mali and Burkina Faso.

As progressive Pan-Africanists, we must fully associate with and support all the revolutionary actions of fighters who are removing puppets of French imperialism from political office and power. The Pan-African Institute should therefore provide ideological, political, and technical weapons to all progressive forces on the African continent to fight against colonialism.

There is a political trend that is being accepted by African Heads of State and governments where one country convenes all 54 African Heads of State and governments. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with building economic and trade relationships with different countries, the manner in which this is done is sporadic and uncoordinated.

This echoes the sentiments of President Kwame Nkrumah’s assessment of neo-colonialism. Amongst other things, he described it as “breaking up former large, united colonial territories into a number of small non-viable states incapable of independent development”. Ten years ago, a revolutionary socialist and Pan-Africanist movement, the Economic Freedom Fighters, was formed against xenophobic violence in pockets of South Africa and immediately aligned with Pan-Africanism.

Founded with seven non-negotiable cardinal pillars, one is massive investment in the development of the African economy. This pillar recognises that the development of the African continent is inextricably linked to the development of South Africa. The founding manifesto of the EFF states, “The EFF will also advocate for the ultimate integration of the African continent through the erosion and eventual elimination of unnecessary borders.”

There are so many senseless political, infrastructure, monetary, telecommunications, economic, and social borders that exist on the African continent which must be collapsed as soon as possible. The African continent should therefore work towards the commencement of the integrated rail network which will enhance and harness African trade, whilst ensuring the removal of visa requirements for all intra-African travel.

The establishment of a common defence and security system for the whole continent, which will safeguard our continental sovereignty from external invasions and theft of natural resources, is crucial.

We need to electrify the entire African continent because the world we are living in needs electricity. We must pursue massive industrialisation of the African economy through beneficiation of our natural resources—we need cars, ships, airplanes, phones, and computers that are made in Africa.

The EFF therefore pledges its full solidarity with the Pan-African Institute and will actively participate in all its activities and avail resources, both financial and human resources, to support the progress and success of the Pan-African Institute. In light of the genocide taking place in Palestine, I urge Kenya not to forget the past atrocities of colonialism and immediately cease its support of apartheid Israel.

As Africans, we have a historic duty to unite all African people and secure their dignity, prosperity, and security on the international front. Long live the Pan-African institute and let it pave the way for African Unity. One Africa, One Country.

Julius Sello Malema is the Commander in Chief and President of the Economic Freedom Fighters.