Africa for Africans! This was the slogan being chanted by university students, scholars and other officials as the Pan African Movement (PAM) was on Friday launched at university level.
The launch took place at the University of Rwanda, (Huye Campus), with participants agreeing that PAM would be the ideal vehicle towards the African development roadmap dubbed Agenda 2063.
Agenda 2063 strives to enable Africa remain committed to the ideals envisaged in the context of a rapidly changing world, to the continent’s accelerated development and technological progress so as to ensure positive socio-economic transformation within the next 50 years.
The students signed performance contracts (Imihigo) in line with the achievement of PAM’s objectives. The contracts commit students to teach and thoroughly explain the objectives of PAM in institutions of higher learning, secondary and primary schools.
The president of PAM at University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (UR-CASS), Dan Nkotanyi, said they are committed to achieving the contracts.
Students and other participants agreed that for Africanism to be fully successful, Africa should cease to be a net importer of various items including clothes, electronic devices and foods, which is costing it huge amount of money.
“It is a shame that almost all of us in this hall are putting on imported clothes. We have to challenge this status quo by producing and consuming locally made products,” said Jean Luc Musana, a third year student in the development department at UR.
Protais Musoni, the chairman of PAM Rwanda Chapter, said having Africa importing more products from abroad is only enriching other countries, leaving Africans poor and without work.
“Africa is the continent that is stricken by hunger, yet it possesses the largest swathes of arable land,” he said.
According to the 2014 Africa Progress Report, an annual flagship publication of the Africa Progress Panel, African countries spent $35 billion on food imports (excluding fish) in 2011.
The report recommended that with the right policies; Africa’s farmers could capture the lion’s share of a $35 billion market in food imports and climb the value chain in exports.
Musoni urged students to think of ways to make use of Africa’s land to solve these problems.
Prof Nelson Ijumba, the deputy vice chancellor for academic affairs and research at UR, said Africans should be able to stay together and embrace solidarity to achieve the economic liberation of African people.
“We have a responsibility to educate the youth, but it’s not just providing basic and technical education, but rather education that will make sure that we free our minds and believe in ourselves as Africans,” he said.
Dr Eric Ndushabandi, the deputy dean for the UR’s School of Political and Social Sciences, and the chairperson of PAM at UR-CASS, called for an education that will enable students to be more creative, consisting of knowledge and research that solve the problems of the nation.