17 July 2013

The unfinished business of total liberation - Africa’s islands


Akyaaba Addai-Sebo

It is generally held that decolonisation of Africa ended with the fall of apartheid in South Africa in 1994. But the truth is that Britain, France, Spain and Portugal continue to colonise a number African islands.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was categorical in his thinking about the ‘liberation and unification’ of Africa. He left no doubt that the total ‘political and economic’ liberation and unification of Africa included all the islands of Africa in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. 

To emphasise this and to ensure that posterity does not relinquish, by benign neglect, any territory of Africa, Nkrumah in his books used maps with annotated listings of Africa’s islands to etch in the consciousness of the reader the fact that these islands are integral to the imperative of Africa’s total liberation and unification. To Nkrumah, no African land mass must be under colonisation, trusteeship or be alienated from the cause of African unity.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and its Coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa (Liberation Committee), we must wake up to the fact that the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal still hold a sizeable colony of islands in Africa’s territorial waters. It is refreshing, however, to note that some African countries, on their own, are laying claim to some of these ‘overseas possessions’ of these European ‘powers’.

As I write, it is ‘Not Yet Uhuru’ for the following islands: Ascension Island (United Kingdom); Saint Helena Island (United Kingdom); Tristan da Cunha Archipelago (United Kingdom); Bassas de India Atoll (France); Europa Island (France); Glorioso Islands (France); Iles Esparses (France); Juan de Nova Island (France); Mayotte Island (France); Reunion Island (France); Tromelin Island (France); Canary Islands (Spain); Ceuta (Spain) and Madeira (Portugal).

Read the full article in PAMBAZUKA .