Date: 12 July 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
On behalf of the entire AU Watch team, I offer you a very warm welcome to AU Watch’s much anticipated and proposed launched date (24? / 26? October 2018). I urge you to explore our website (though not fully completed – https://www.au-watch.org/) and see where you fit into this very unique project. Our IT guys are working at break neck speed to get it completed well before the launch date. By the way, if you are an IT guru and are able to lend a hand that would be appreciated.
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former Chairperson of the AU in launching Agenda 2063 in January 2014, stated that “it’s about time to do things crazily to get the AU and the continent moving”. So, we are in good company. I urge to fully explore your new organization. Let me get one confusing and recurring issue out of the way. We must at the very onset say that AU Watch is a very ambitious programme. You are probably thinking that we are crazy. Yes, we are. We know that. A few people have told us that as well. As a matter of fact, various adjectives have been used to describe us: ‘absolutely huge’, ‘gargantuan’, ‘massive’, ‘impossible’, ridiculously ambitious’ and even ‘crazy guys and girls’. In truth we cannot disagree with all of those very beautiful compliments. We like ‘crazy’ more’. We are the first to admit to you, that what we are trying to achieve in Africa, has never been done before! We are not afraid to be different! We relish been different. I must also warn you that to be part of us, you have to be a little crazy as well. As the Chairperson of AU Watch (Hon. Bahame Tom Nyanduga) recently pointed out, the previous Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in launching Agenda 2063 in January 2014, stated that “it’s about time to do things crazily to get the AU and the continent moving”. So, we are in good company. I urge to fully explore your new organization. Have a question? Want to comment on something or contribute to our work? Or maybe you want to volunteer for us? We have a wide variety of opportunities just for you. Call us or write to us. We are quite good in replying.
We have for over 55 years tried the sane and rational approach with the O/AU and AU Member States. It has not worked. The OAU and now the AU and its Members have left a bitter taste in our mouth. What has the AU or its Members bequeathed to us – social injustices at a massive scale, poverty, hunger, corruption, poor governance, conflicts, a disheartened and disenfranchised youthful population? Every day millions of our compatriots wake up to a beautiful African sunrise only to be confronted with poverty and a host of every conceivable problem in a continent of plenty. It’s ridiculous and unacceptable! You probably will agree with that. Hopelessness and helplessness pervade, crouching at our doors. Desperation has forced many of our youths to flee the continent, with hundreds dying in the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea. Those are the lucky ones. Many are sold as slaves in Libya and other places. It is only in Africa these ills can happen, and yet our governments are unmoved and still sitting pretty. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is probably right.
Let’s try ‘crazy’ to see if we can get things moving. Having established our credentials, let’s get to the main issues. The good thing about the state Africa and the vast majority of its people find themselves is regrettable, but the truth is we don’t have to feel pity for ourselves. Africa’s condition is not fatal. We can take Africa back from THEM and make 2063 a reality!
As President Barack Obama stated a few weeks ago in South Africa, the politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment is all over the place. And that kind of politics is now on the move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. He stated: “Look around you — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretence of democracy are (maintaining) the form of it, where those in powers seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.” We see that the press is under attack, that censorship and state control of media is on the rise and that social media is being used to promote hate, propaganda and conspiracy theories.
For those joining us, AU Watch is a truly Pan-African Organisation that holds the AU and its Members accountable to the standards they have set for themselves. We believe AU leadership is essential in the regional struggle for security, development, and human rights, so we press the AU and their States Managers to respect the laws they create and the treaties they sign. When they fail, we step in to demand reform, accountability, and justice! But we do more. As a think-and-do-tank, AU Watch is committed to advancing the wider understanding of the AU, its RECs, institutions and programs and their critical security, political, economic and human rights issues of the twenty-first century and their potential resolution. Through our comprehensive communication, media, outreach and education programs and practical activities, we seek to raise awareness, disseminate and expand information and understanding of AU / AUMS affairs, empowering people and communities to have the power to claim their basic human rights, to escape poverty, injustice, and misrule. I could go on and on. But hopefully, you get the drift.
We have not underestimated the task and the difficulties ahead. But our resolve is stronger! For example, we hope in time that there will be an AU Watch Chapter in every African country. We also hope to have a 24-hr AU Watch digital TV and 24 hr FM online radios for all our Chapters. We aim to live-stream / broadcast every public AU event with interactive participation. The objective is, even if you are in Mars, you will know what the AU and AUMS are doing and able to comment and participate in AU matters. AU Watch is going to provide a platform for the African people to have an ALMIGHTY say in the way they are being governed. Why shouldn’t it be possible in the 21st Century for you (if you have competing schedules or even budgetary constraints) to be in your nice Abuja, Pretoria, Cairo, Entebbe, etc, etc, suburb and contribute to the debates at the African Commission or the Summit. The technology is here and it’s affordable. Our state managers will get to know what the African people are saying. We are no longer waiting to be invited to the AU jamboree. We are writing an invite for ourselves to the AU party.
For too long, we have given our political class a blank cheque to rule – or misrule. We’ve cowered, shrugged our shoulders and looked up to the heavens for salvation which is yet to arrive, and accepted our plight as a fait accompli. A lot of us, for whatever reason, have been complicit in the crimes of our political class by our silence or inaction. The truth is, a ‘people always deserve the government they get!’ So, we the peoples of Africa are sending a clear message to the AU and AUMS that we are determined to have an ALMIGHTY say in the manner in which we are being governed and the way the AU and AUMS conduct business, because it is no longer business as usual. We need to our tell stories – and we need to keep those stories in the consciousness of Africa. Our political class for too long have acted as our spokespeople. They’ve done a bad job at it. We taking over the mic and speakers and printed pages and presenting our stories ourselves. They are stories of our struggles FOR JUSTICE, but also of our history, culture, music, language and everything about us.
Dr Feyi Ogunade
Do you think it’s possible for Africa to ensure that every child in Africa is enrolled in school and stay in school till 18? Are you still with me? Stay tuned.