AU must roll up their sleeves to set up Wakanda One, says UJ’s Dr David Monyae

Is the AU leadership genuinely seeking to achieve Agenda 2063? Encouraged by the famous blockbuster movie, Marvel’s Black Panther, the AU announced Wakanda One, a technologically advanced hub, as a symbol of the new African civilization, envisioned in Agenda 2063. It will be Africa’s own Silicon Valley or Shenzhen – the main site for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Dr David Monyae, the Co-Director of the University Of Johannesburg (UJ) Confucius Institute (UJCI), penned an opinion piece entitled “AU must roll up their sleeves to set up Wakanda One” published on IOL News, 16 Jan 2019.

Wakanda One seeks to turn Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls), on the border of Zimbabwe (2000 hectares), into Africa’s technological epicentre, with Zambia (offering 132 hectares) to the project. The irony of the chosen leading country cannot be ignored – Zimbabwe where citizens are on the streets – violently protesting against the deepening economic and political environment.

The country has not enjoyed freedom since 2000, mainly due to poor leadership. Both the ruling and opposition parties have abdicated their constitutional duties to outsiders, mainly former coloniser Britain and the Western world. It also perhaps contributes the largest numbers in the world to the new African diaspora.

The Zanu-PF relies heavily on its liberation credentials and pan-African ideology to commit heinous economic and political crimes.

Similarly, the opposition MDC appears short of any independent thought or strategy. Both the ruling party and the opposition appear to be living in a wonderland, expecting outsiders (the SADC, AU and the West) to wave the magic wand to instantly resolve their challenges.

Those steeped in African history realise there is nothing new about a Wakanda One project in southern Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe. The country’s name, “Dzimba-dza-mabwe”, a Shona word meaning “houses built of stones”, was once such a major civilization. The Monomutapa Kingdom spread from Great Zimbabwe in the Masvingo province, reaching Beira in Mozambique with satellites across southern Africa, including Mapungubwe in South Africa.

One wonders if the AU can entrust current Zimbabwean leaders with such a huge project. Wakanda One requires serious transformative leadership that can tap into the African indigenous knowledge system, to marshal unity of purpose and the abundant resources on the continent and from the diaspora.

As in the Black Panther movie (ironically written by a white man), the African diaspora mobilised resources to bring to life Africa’s potential civilization. It is therefore critical for the AU to stop watching movies and roll up their sleeves. Firstly, Wakanda One cannot succeed on the colonial curriculum taught at our universities. It does not have enough African interest to give birth to such a new civilization.

Secondly, Africans remain trapped in a colonial mindset, which devalues Ubuntu in favour of Western notions of development, modernity and spirituality.

Thirdly, Africans must declare corruption as a crime against humanity. If the high levels of corruption across the continent are not tackled head-on, they will hinder the Wakanda One project.

The idea of a Wakanda Village in southern Africa is long overdue. While drawing up plans for it, African leaders should stabilise the continent by prioritising peace and security. For Wakanda to be realised, all these preconditions must be met.

The Wakanda Village idea can become a reality if Africa can pragmatically harness the rich historical experience of its former glorious civilizations, such as the Mali Empire (Timbuktu), Carthage in Tunisia, and Egypt, to name just a few. Africans need to co-operate with the international community to learn from other civilizations in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Africa can acquire knowledge and skills, particularly in science and technology. For its active participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it requires projects such as Wakanda One.

*The views expressed in the article is that of the author/s and does not necessarily reflect that of the University of Johannesburg

dr david monyae
Dr David Monyae
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