On 23rd and 24th August 2016, Africans rose. Two hundred and seventy-two people, from 40 countries, congregated and deliberated on citizen’s responses to the structural and systematic challenges facing the African continent. The result of this reflection was the declaration and commitment to rise and raise the profile of the African continent. The “Kilimanjaro Declaration”, deliberately named after the highest mountain in Africa; the declaration is a clarion call for Africans to take charge of their current affairs and define the future they want.
The conference attracted responses from people from all walks of life; ranging from the faith-based representatives, trade unionists, youth groups, parliamentarians and representatives of women’s’ movements. When the work was finally done and the declaration pronounced, there was a lot of excitement in the air: People chanted, danced, ululated at the prospect that a new dawn for Africa was indeed on the horizon. With over 60 % of participants below age 35, the message was clear that young people are not only the future, but they are the present. Their Voice does not only matter but also count!
It was my first conference to attend where ALL participants where indeed equal. There were no protocols observed, no kings and queens, no gatekeepers. The mood was sober and colorful. The message was crystal clear: “We are Men and Women of Africa who believe that we can no longer continue to be Beggars in our Own Home. The African Continent and all those who live in it deserve the very best”.
No more shall we allow this continent to be a rich continent with poor people;
No more shall we allow the ownership of the resources to be in the hands of multinationals and a few African elites;
No more shall we allow bad governance and its attendant corruption to prevail;
No more shall we allow the rules of international trade to be dictated by Bretton Wood Institutions and a few well-connected individuals;
No more shall we allow the abuse of the vulnerable members of our societies (our women, children, the elderly and, the disabled);
No more shall we standby and watch as our young people are forced to migrate in search of greener pastures outside the continent;
No more shall we allow multinationals to amuse African workers with starvation wages;
No more shall we allow the shortening of African lives through unfavourable exposure to hazardous working conditions;
No more shall we allow our gold, diamonds, copper, cocoa etc. to be extracted and exported in raw form.
We proclaimed that we deserve the best: ethical people in leadership, independent and powerful States, Governments that are responsive to people’s needs, holistic health care, quality education, safe housing, the dignity of employment opportunities and the best wages.
We decreed that:
Africa’s resources (under and above the ground) belong to its people, who should own them;
We shall work to restore the dignity of African people by fostering a culture of self-love and peaceful co-existence;
We shall work together to promote a peaceful, united and a sustainably developed Africa;
We shall promote people to people integration and the free movement of people within the continent;
We shall act in uniformity against any form of injustices (indeed an injury to one shall be an injury to all);
We shall protect our natural environment and its glories through the cultivation and promotion of our indigenous knowledge systems of living in harmony with nature;
Most importantly, we shall grow and sustain this movement with African resources, contributed by Africans
Indeed, the people have spoken, we urge you to be on the right side of history and Join the Africans Rising movement!
Hilma Mote is the Executive Director at Africa Labour Research and Education Institute (ALREI)-ITUC-Africa
She serves as a member of the Africans Rising Interim Working Group (IWG)