Strive to keep Africa safe, secure and democratic - Scholars urge African leaders

Thu, 03.Aug.2023 13.49

By Jackson Isdory, CMU

Scholars have called upon African leaders to work hard to make Africa safe, secure and democratic as the continent’s current progress is hampered by concerning deteriorations in both security and rule of law and participation, rights and inclusion.

This was said during the critical scholarly presentations and debates at the highly cherished 14th Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere Intellectual Festival which was hosted recently by the University of Dar es Salaam.

Professor Rwekaza Mukandala, the Mwalimu J.K Nyerere Professor of Pan African Studies and UDSM former Vice Chancellor said that the current socio-political situation in Africa, under extremely trying circumstances, presents a pessimistic picture of the difficulties of realising the dream African unity, peace, prosperity and development.

“The details of the 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) released in January 2023 show how the dream of African unity, peace, prosperity and development is yet to be realised”, said Prof. Mukandala.

Citing further the IIAG, Prof. Mukandala said that Africa’s overall Governance score has flatlined since 2019, and in 2021 much of Africa was less safe, secure and democratic than in 2012 and that the continent’s progress has been affected by concerning deteriorations in both security and rule of law and participation, rights and inclusion, “with the pace of decline accelerating since 2017”.

The festival, which was jointly organised by the UDSM’s Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Chair of Pan-African Studies and Haki Elimu and was held on 26th and 27th June 2023, offered a platform for intense intellectual deliberations on the theme of "Pan-Africanism and the Quest for Democratisation, Security and Development."

The event brought together distinguished participants including scholars, diplomats, politicians, students and civil societies, journalists and members of the clergy to engage in profound discussions on the theme.

A moment of self-realisation and serious reflections

Meanwhile, the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor-Research, Prof. Nelson Boniface, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. William A.L. Anangisye, commended all those involved in the organisation of the festival which “affords many participants a moment of self-realisation, and a place for serious reflections on the past and future of Africa’s development”.

“We have explored this avenue not only out of intellectual curiosity on our circumstances as a people, but more profoundly in search for a better destiny for humanity, especially in Africa”, said Prof. Boniface.

Prof. Boniface further noted that this year’s theme called for a deep reflection on the destiny of Africans as a people, guided by the African Union and its desire to promote Africa’s growth and economic development by championing citizen inclusion and increased cooperation and integration of African states.

“We can plot this dream against the realities of democratisation, security and human development. When Africa is marking its Sixtieth Anniversary since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, the precursor of the African Union, this reflection is timely”, he emphasised.

He also expressed his gratitude to the Distinguished Mwalimu Nyerere Lecturer for 2023, Prof. Musambayi Katumanga from the University of Nairobi for agreeing to deliver his lecture at this prestigious festival.

During the festival, participants had the opportunity to engage in stimulating discussions, led by renowned scholars and keynote speakers. Prof. Katumanga captivated the audience with his insights on the chosen theme: “Distance Decay as Geo-Graphing ‘Development’ and Realities of Security Politics in Africa.”

The festival provided a space for intellectuals, students, and other participants to critically examine the Africa's potential for growth and prosperity. With abundant natural resources and a significant population, Africa possesses the necessary ingredients to pave its path towards sustainable development and economic progress.

Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim decorated with the Mwalimu Nyerere Leadership and Excellenc Award

It was a captivating moment on the second day when the organisers of the Festival presented the Mwalimu Nyerere Leadership and Excellence Award 2023 to Hon. Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim.

Reading the citation, Dr. Rasul Minja from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration noted that “Dr Salim Ahmed Salim is, without a doubt, a great personality, an epitome of humility, patriotic leadership and great devotion to the pan-African ideals of a continent which is united, integrated, peaceful, prosperous, resilient and influential global player and partner.

The Prize was collected on his behalf by his son, Ahmed, who thanked the Mwalimu Nyerere Chair of Pan African Studies for the honour to his father. Dr Salim Ahmed Salim is one of the distinguished leaders that Tanzania has ever produced. He served the country in various capacities notably as the Prime Minister and Vice President as well as the continent as the longest serving Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). He also engineered the transformation of OAU into the African Union (AU).