A defeated people are rarely given opportunity to write their own history. The privilege to record, shape or distort historical events is typically reserved for the victor.
Expectedly, those who write history reserve the most enviable memories and titles for themselves and their kin. Conqueror, master, merchant, noble, explorer, saint, are few of the more polite titles assigned to those titans of global history – as we are told.
A summary of world history tells of landmark events written for future generations to understand the hierarchy of nations. Pax Britannica, for example, refers to a time when Britain dominated the global political economy somewhere between the early 1800s to early 1900s.
Pax Americana refers to the period of American dominance beginning around the 1940s and even after. Such global dominance is propelled by supreme military power ready to defend and protect the image and interests of the superpower anywhere on the globe – and usually at short notice, or without notice at all.
Hiroshima, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, the list goes on; expose the impact of military force by global superpowers and how far they go to protect their interests around the world.
It is not surprising that in all the places mentioned, history records the superpowers as crusaders and protectors of shared freedoms and values, not the aggressors.
This power to influence global opinion and perception is done by either force or reward. Rewards can take the form of budgetary support, other financing, (military) protection or a place at the high table of international organisations.
Such international organisations have rules and regulations that each member nation must accept in order to be a respected member of the family if states. These rules and regulations form common interests, whether forced, accepted or both.
These common interests like democracy, human rights, religion, history and culture also influence relationships between and among given nations away from organisations.
For instance, the United Kingdom (UK) and the Unites States of America (USA) mostly seem to share a similar world view, in the same way that China and Russia seem to share their own world view. These shared interests cause nations to enter political, financial or military alliances to defend, protect and speak for one another. The fact is there are ideological, religious, cultural and more importantly economic interests.
This is why the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was so important because it expressed a common interest among Africans to have political independence in each colony at that time. In other words, our first common expressed interest was restoring our political freedom because land was taken by a foreign imposed policy and polity which largely (re-)wrote our history. This should never escape the African mind.
The history written for Africa artificially begins at slavery and proudly strolls slowly through the colonial era while brushing past the freedom struggles of respective African nations quickly enough to paint African leaders after independence as inept and unsophisticated, most of all, cruel and corrupt.
So, the OAU was also meant to be corrective in narrating the African story so that once we were able to make our own laws and govern our sovereign space, the next step was to take control of our capital across the continent.
Therefore, the African Union (AU) became the second expression of shared interest of Africans for continent-wide economic emancipation. The battle for continental economic independence is even harder because the budget for the AU is largely financed by non-Africans. The first thing, therefore, is to finance our own organisation – our own interests.
Zambia sat at the high table of both the OAU and AU in their formation, advancement. transformation and contribution to free the African continent, politically and economically.
That’s why Zambia reasoned to liberalise its economy and allow local and indigenous ownership of capital from 1991 partly to re-write the story of our country and empower future generations. Somehow, one wonders why we have failed to protect our own history and place on the African continent.
Will we be remembered as that titan of African history, or a political experiment for external interests?
Even now the call by the great Kwame Nkrumah in 1963 for Africa to unite rings loud. Another African icon Dr Julius Nyerere echoed in 1997 that the new generation of African leaders must lead the torch of unity that his generation started.
That new generation of African leaders began in 1992 at the OAU when Dr Frederick Chiluba said in his inaugural speech that those who come to power through violence must be rejected at continental level.