By Spencer Chiimbwe
In this article to the Parkchester Times, I have a few thoughts to share on this day, the day when the African Union was founded, September 9, 1999. Much of what I have to share is how the possibility of the Africa Fund Summit, if the AU decided to have one, should look like and what the summit may take into consideration. This is just an idea, a reflection, a projection, my hope is that it gets the institutional support needed to be operationalized. Let the work for Africa continue, this behavior of fighting for idea ownership, or embracing the idea only if it emerges from the Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone or Arab League, is creating a leadership void for Africa and as a result, Africa is arguably surrendering its leadership autonomy to China. Africa is moving from colonialism to colonialism. After celebrating 50 years of independence from the British, Africa turns the other way to go to China and ask for further colonization. Africa is not in short supply of funds to take care of its destiny, it is in short supply of the leadership needed to seize today’s opportunities and make things happen for the great continent of Africa.
For example, the current 2019 approved budget for the African Union is $ 681.5 million. Well, if Africa is creative enough, with sophisticated and tactical negotiators to raise the money in question, a $681.5 million budget should not even be an issue. I am not talking about getting the money from the gold, diamond or oil rivers of Africa, this latter narrative has made Africa’s growth stunted for so long, i.e the fallacy of digging gold to make Africa work. That is not what this article is about, that narrative is entangled in the cobweb of illusions, selfishness and conflict and in no way does this article assume a lifeless, non-starter assumptive nuance that the people of Africa shall soon get together and discuss gold as the starting point to developing a fund for Africa. The variables preventing the sustenance of the natural resource problematic narrative are complicated and that is not a good place to start a conversation about the Africa Fund Summit. This article submits the following possibilities:
As of March 2018, the Black Panther, that showcases a utopia for people of African descent, made around $1.195 billion worldwide (Mendelson, 2018). Yet, Africans have not come up with a plan to engage the stakeholders in the Black Panther about the challenges of the continent that this film has made billions from. No one from African Union has assumed that thought, but guess what, China has. So, Africans would rather have Black Panther contribute to China than the African Union. Here is a question, what percentage of $1.195 billion is $ 681.5 million? Maybe that is too much of a percentage to ask the Stakeholders of Black Panther. What about the Lion King, it has made billions and billions of dollars in the last two decades. ‘Over The Last 20 Years, Broadway’s ‘Lion King’ Has Made More Money For Disney Than ‘Star Wars’ (Seymour, 2018). With the right leadership, coupled with creativity, Africa can engage these entities and have them become partners in the development of the continent. These entities use the imagery and history of the continent to make money and yet, they have never been asked or invited to participate in the development of the continent.
If the effort to engage the Black Panther or Lion King fails, a handful of African players playing in Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League can fund the needs of the entire continent, but they too have never been officially approached to have a stake in the continent’s endeavors. The problem is that Africa is still looking down for gold and thereby missing the opportunities that are in looking upwards. This article is calling for the Africa Fund Summit where all franchises that use Africa’s name to make money, and all people of African descent performing in the Diaspora may get together and develop a fund for Africa. If the African Union does not embrace this idea, China will and very soon, African players in the UEFA will start contributing billions of dollars to the Chinese treasury. Really?
Financial reforms at the African Union lead to massive cuts of the Union’s Budget. (2018, July 6). Retrieved September 9, 2018, from https://au.int/en/pressreleases/20180706/financial-reforms-african-union-lead-massive-cuts-union’s-budget
Mendelson, S. (2018, March 21). Box Office: ‘Black Panther’ Tops $1.2B, With A Little Help From China. Retrieved September 9, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2018/03/21/box-office-black-panther-tops-1-2b-with-a-little-help-from-china/#5595b709164c
Seymour, L. (2018, December 18). Over The Last 20 Years, Broadway’s ‘Lion King’ Has Made More Money For Disney Than ‘Star Wars’. Retrieved September 9, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/leeseymour/2017/12/18/the-lion-king-is-making-more-money-for-disney-than-star-wars/#42634b681ff0
Spencer Chiimbwe is the Doctoral Candidate in the Law and Policy program at the Northeastern University College of Professional Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org