On the continent, though, most of the struggles of African leaders were centered on the issue of independence from colonialism. European nations divided Africa into political territories that they managed. Revolutionary African leaders struggled for freedom and independence from the colonial leadership and nation state. African nationalist leadership saw the establishment of their independence in their own nation as the primary goal.
One can assume that most Africans were so consumed with the issues at home that they could not see the value or relevance of attempting to help another nation when their own nation was still in bondage as a colony of another foreign country. Therefore, nationalism was the priority and focus of leaders in Africa who struggled for independence.
After the Second World War, African leadership began to push and struggle for unity and nationalism. Such leaders include Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea-Conakry, Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Muhamar Gahdafi of Libya, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Amilcar Cabaral of Guinea Bissau and Frantz Fanon of Martinique.
A few leaders, though, began to see the importance of not only their own independence but a free and independent Africa. This Africa was a nation where Africans of the individual nation states worked together to free themselves and move to develop the kind of country suited to them based on their history, traditions and culture.
At the forefront of these Pan-African thinkers was Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. President Nkrumah saw the importance of a unified Africa. He did much to encourage Africans to begin to think about the possibility of a unified continent.
Another such thinker was Chiekh Anta Diop, who believed that Africa must dissolve its borders and unite politically first before there would be economic unity. Diop did not believe economic unity would be possible without political unity.
This belief and the desire for a unified Africa spurred the establishment of the Organization of African Unity and the African Union.
However, unity has yet to be achieved through this organization. The many failed regional economic organizations and the lack of power of the African Union and other African collaborations could be seen as validation of Diop’s ideology.
The struggle to extricate colonial influences from African nations can still be seen today in Zimbabwe, the Ivory Coast, Angola and Cameroon. While these struggles are still nationally focused, they share a commonality with other African nations in that they believe — like South American nations — they can rid themselves of the influences of Europe and the West without the assistance of others.
Unfortunately, both history and current events show that they are wrong: Problems are not only persisting but growing. Some nations have moved from one dictator to another. Poverty has not been eradicated. Independence is just a mere word. Economic well-being is a dream for the masses. “All the King’s forces” of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the many advisors of the West have not been able to put Africa back together again in a way where the economy supports its people, alleviates poverty, builds wealth and creates an economically competitive economy.