Premised on the ongoing conversation of opening up Africa’s borders to Africans for economic and social development spearheaded by Africans Rising, AU Member States, and other organizations on the continent, on 25th May 2023 at Global Platform Zambia we successfully held a poetry show themed ‘Africa Is A Country’ to surmise that Africa is a country belonging to all her citizens. That every African is another African’s countryman and countrywoman. We believe, like Africans Rising, in Africa where Africans can move around their own continent without the current restrictions in place. The ‘Africa Is A Country’ was held with support from Southern Defenders, We Are Family Foundation, and Africans Rising. With extended gratitude to the people who attended and actively shared their thoughts on what “Africa as a Country” meant to them.
At the continental level, already there is developed a treaty protocol on the free movement of persons in Africa. It shows how an integrated and developed Africa plump with trade can be achieved. All African Union member states should ratify and adopt the protocol in order to encourage easier movements of people and goods beyond country boundaries. Many member states including the Government of the Republic of Zambia have made and continue to make commendable strides in enforcing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement with much neglect of the Free Movement of People agenda. Goods do not move themselves–people move goods–and as such people should be able to enter, reside and establish with ease within African territory if free trade is really to be realized.
We have noticed with sadness how entertainingly we admit migrants from outside Africa into our countries with so much desire and commitment to making their entry and stay favorable, and do the exact opposite to our own African brothers and sisters! From the efforts of stalwarts of the Kwame-Nkrumah era to now, the demand that “no African should be treated like a foreigner in any African Country” is the new independence anthem. It is unthinkable to have colonial-drawn boundaries border how we interact, render help to one another, or grow the continent. Therefore, more than ever, we need to erase those imperialist drawings and embrace oneness with every other African on the continent. At the poetry show, we established that we cannot have a trend of discriminating against our people within the borders of their home—Africa.
We had an audience of 70 people, with a performance list of 11 poets and 5 open-mic performances. The poet’s messages mainly emphasized a) protest against the colonial-administered borders that were laid down for Europeans’ easy control and exploitation of African people and resources, b) a Pan-African realization that beyond skin colour, culture, and our rich history the most valuable commodity we have as Africans is our land and how well we use it for our own developmental growth, integration and trade, and c) that easy mobility will lift the burdens that weigh women and girls from actualizing, hurdles that slow human rights defenders down, and walls that keep African youth from developing, innovating, and contributing their energy and brilliance to the improvement of the continent and human life.
In all, the ‘Africa is A Country’ Poetry Show commemorated this year’s Africa Freedom Day by inspiring solidarity amongst Human Rights Defenders to be each other’s keepers in case of challenges they face in the line of work across Africa.