Similar to the other great pan-African forefathers like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Haile Selassie, Nyerere, Kenyatta, Nasser and others already considered in these chronicles, the pan-African beliefs, lyrics and endeavors of Modibo Keïta continues to echo today.
In this part of the story we revisit the words of Keïta he gave at the First Summit of the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) in 1963 in Addis Ababa that attest to his leadership in the pan-African Movement.
At the OAU meeting in Addis Ababa, Modibo Keïta as one of the African Founding Leaders of the OAU gave a speech that substantiated that he was a pan-African who saw victory coming towards the unification of the African continent regardless of the diversity of the people of the continent.
He said: “…Assembled round one table, the great African Continent – divided by several centuries of colonisation – can claim a major victory over the diversity of peoples, languages and religions that characterises our continent. …To organise cooperation between countries like ours that are firmly attached to their recently won sovereignty, will be hailed as an event unique in the history of the world…”
Continuing to speak at the OAU Summit; Keïta, promised that the Republic of Mali will contribute to the founding meeting of the OAU and keep its obligation on the resolutions of the OAU Summit towards uniting the African Continent. He said: “…In the name of humanity to which our meeting has given new hope, in the name ….of our honour and pride as Africans, confronting those who continue to deny us all capacity for agreeing amongst ourselves, for conducting our own affairs, and for raising in common an enduring edifice – keeping these obligations in mind, the Republic of Mali intends to make a positive contribution to this meeting…”
In that speech Keïta urged his colleagues to be undiplomatic to the nationalists when it comes to the unification of Africa. He declared: “…Although tradition may require it, we of the Republic of Mali will not adopt diplomatic language, which obliges us to conceal our real thoughts, and to say what we do not believe. If all of us here present are truly animated by the ardent desire to achieve AFRICAN UNITY, we must take Africa as it is, and we must renounce any territorial claims, if we do not wish to introduce what we might call black imperialism in Africa…”
In the same speech he continued to warn on the dangers of fragmentation: “…In order to promote and construct a UNITED AFRICA, we shall gladly conjure up the danger that lurks behind a divided Africa.
It is no longer possible to tolerate the opposition cleverly fostered between groups of states. We should be threatened by the cleavage of our continent into antagonistic blocs and should be preparing the most fertile ground for the dangerous transplantation of the cold war to the soil of our common homeland…”
Keïta ended his Speech by assuring his brothers that Mali must be counted as a committed partner in the liberation and unification of Africa. He said: “…We must then proceed, stage by stage, to concrete actions, looking only to the ideals of liberation and AFRICAN UNITY.
In this inspiring task, your Majesty and dear brothers, you will find at your side the people of Mali, its party, its popular organizations and its government, because the truest expression of the feelings of honour and dignity for the free peoples…”
The struggle to attain the African Unity is far from over. The challenge for all of us who want a united Africa are far more greater; we must therefore be guided by the visions of Modibo Keïta to continue aspiring for the Unity of the African Continent. Although Keïta’s contribution to the pan-African Movement may seem obscure; he was a great pan-African who contributed to the struggles of uniting Africa and we must celebrate him as one of the giants of pan-Africanism.
Dr Kafumu is the Member of Parliament for Igunga Constituency