Self-Determination, Nationalism, Development and Pan-Africanism Stuck on the Runway: Are Intellectuals to be Blamed?

  • JW Forje


Almost fifty years after independence that aspiration of regaining lost human dignity seems stuck on the runway – warranting ‘the people‘s distress call’ for a genuine take-off. The questions that come to mind given the plethora of problems plaguing the continent are many and varied. First, does Africa want to develop? Second, what kind of independence did Africa get? Third, through which means must Africa address its problems? What has been the role of its intellectuals? What are the responses of the international community, particularly the former colonial masters in structuring and influencing the destiny of the continent for good or bad? In short, what is the trouble with Africa?
This paper looks at the litany of national deficiencies that give the continent a bad image, leaving it unable to address the plethora of problems confronting the region. Why Africans have resigned themselves to their existing peril and why African governments must give content and meaning to the aspirations of the people under the canopy of the rising tide of globalization and the information communication technology age. This essay considers the dialectic of micro-nationalism, nationalism, development and globalization— which define the place of Africa within the world system—besides forcing a serious reflection on ways in which citizenship and development can be reconceptualised beyond the mere confines of the existing nation-state order.
This discussion addresses issues underpinning the struggles for self-determination, African renaissance and the unity of the continent. It does so by looking into the role of intellectuals, leadership and habits which cripple the aspirations and inhibit the chances of Africa becoming a modern, democratic and attractive continent capable of transforming the lives of the poor and needy, instead of waiting for ‘band aid[s] and other handouts’ to improve the quality of living standards of the population.
Adopting a multidisciplinary analytical and discussional approach by tackling issues of the interface of self-determination, (under) development, marginalization, xenophobia, and exclusion, the wanton and colossal destruction of natural and human resources in the process of knowledge production, this essay probes efforts aimed at constructing a sense of belonging as the take-off to sustainable development. The descent into mere anarchy must be halted and reversed if Africa is to be part of the twenty-first century and beyond

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eISSN: 0850-7902