Monday, July 27, 2009

46 Years After the AU: The Role of Education

I had the privilege of speaking to the non-profit organisation the 42nd Generation's meeting of the AU--46 years later last Saturday at Busyinternet in Accra. Below are some of the highlights of that speech.

They say if you want to hide anything from the Black Man, put it in a book! This much continues to hold true among the African Youth. While it is true that much of them have imbibed--and continue to imbibe--AU matters and the eminence of Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, many are found napping when it comes to the latest publications out there on the Internet.

First of all, Obama and Dr.Nkrumah are both revered and respected not just for their inspirational speeches but their education: Obama is a constitutional lawyer, Nkrumah was a Ph.D holder. And perhaps one of the first of his kind among his contemporaries of the time.

How many leaders in two decades have been governing and writing -- never mind as prolifically as Nkrumah did? On the fingers, perhaps?

When Malcolm X talked about "education being the passport for the future", he was not being platitudinous: he was speaking a profound truth about knowing and educating oneself by any means necessary.

In 2009, there are no longer ANY EXCUSES! The advent of the New Media technologies, such as FACEBOOK, TWITTER and whatnot have exposed Africans to tremendous and astronomical levels of information and education that they really have no excuse if they remain ignorant about issues.

I pointed to the latest UNCTAD Economic Report on Africa on regional integration, and the most recent publications coming from the African Union website.

If the African youth is as serious as it claims to be, then it should be perusing the internet and finding what publications are out there to give them the answers they seek to elucidate on African development.

I quoted ECOBANK from the UNCTAD publication, and was surprised how very few people knew of the genesis of ECOBANK. UNCTAD writes:

Another prominent West African investor in Africa’s banking sector is
Ecobank. This truly pan-African bank was created by ECOWAS and established
in Lomé, Togo, in 1985, but the company was not licensed to operate as a bank
until 1988. Through greenfield investments and M&As, Ecobank has pursued a
proactive policy of African expansion and is now the leading pan-African banking
group, present in more African countries than any other bank – 25 countries with
over 500 branches. This is part of a dynamic strategy for geographical expansion that has resulted in this banking group being more widely present than any other
on the continent, though it is only the 23rd by capital value (African Business,

Its growth has occurred mainly in three separate phases. Ecobank started its
operations in Togo in 1988 and quickly established presence in neighbouring
Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria in 1989, followed by Benin and Ghana in 1990. The
next phase of expansion started in 1997 with branches in Burkina Faso and Mali.
In 1999, Ecobank widened its presence in the West African region to Guinea,
Liberia, Niger and Senegal. Between 2000 and 2005, Ecobank established
presence in Cameroon and Cape Verde, but it is especially as of 2006 that the
third wave of expansion began, when Ecobank started business in Sierra Leone
and Chad. In 2007, Ecobank strengthened its presence in West Africa with new
operations in Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Gambia. It also
continued the expansion into Central Africa by opening subsidiaries in Cameroon,
the Central African Republic and Rwanda. In 2008, this continued with Malawi,
Congo, Kenya, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ecobank
has plans to expand its presence in Africa to 33 countries this year, starting with
Gabon, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia by mid-2009 (Ecobank,

So a lengthy piece from pp.72-73 inclusive that explains how closely-related ECOWAS is with ECOBANK.

Bottom line is that if the African personality is to mean anything to and FOR the youth, then it means that they should be educating themselves on all and sundry regarding affairs on the continent. There remain many success stories; they just need to know where to look. Plus the publications are there--online; they should also be looking.

All is not lost--and will not be as long as the African Youth embraced the education of themselves like no-one's life depended on it.

I have a podcast of my speech, which link I will point to once I upload it on my site on


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