A shiver ran through the public attending the annual Meles Zenawi Lecture Series at the 4th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa when Ali Mufuruki, the CEO of Infotech Investment Group LTD , disputed the towering symbolism of the prominent Pan-Africanism Kwame Nkrumah as an African hero. and questioned the idea spread by the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which later became the African Union (AU). “Pan-Africanism is dead,” said Ali Mufuruki to a considerable murmur from many intellectuals in the audience.
The Tanzanian businessman presented Nkrumah’s legacy quite differently from the usual praise used in these occasions. “I studied the biography of Nkrumah for several weeks to prepare this lecture. I was first surprised, then disappointed, and petrified about what I found,” he said. “Like all leaders full of ideals, the father of Ghana’s independence and Pan-Africanism had his own dark moments. As a matter of fact, the Pan-Africanist dream still struggles to be fully implemented.”
In his crusade against the widely accepted wisdom of Nkrumah’s pan-Africanist legacy Ali Mufuruki further went to saying that Nkrumah’s one-party rule and socialist economic orientation was a complete leadership failure that led to his eventual downfall.
But a counter response came shortly afterwards from the world-renowned diplomat and negotiator Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi who personally took part in the struggle for independence over half a century ago: “One must not judge Nkrumah based on wisdom of today, but that of 50 years ago.”
Joining the conversation, Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chairperson of the Tana Board, couldn’t contain his satisfaction when he said: “What we heard is exactly what we want at Tana. Contradictory points of view that are debated and discussed.” The public didn’t wait to pursue the conversation. Political leaders, academics, and civil society stakeholders took their turns to keep the discussion up on one of the Tana’s public dearest topic.
In his speech, “Reflections on Late President Kwame Nkrumah ‘s Pan-Africanism Legacy” Ali Mufuruki may have tasted the patienceof Ethiopia’s Pm Hailemariam Desalegn who left in the middle of the speech; whereas Addis Standard couldn’t verify if PM Hailemariam was walking out on the speakr , or simply left to attend to other business, three more people sitting in the back namely, Tamerat Kebede of Inter Africa group, Amb. Dr. Samuel Assefa, former Ethiopian Ambassador to the US, and Davis Francis, chair, division of peace studies at Bradforn University have told Addis Standard that they were walking out and did so only to come back after the speech was finished.