NES COMMENTARY. No.39
Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)
April 18, 2015
By Mammo Muchie
“Every time history moves backwards or repeats itself, the cost rises. Every time history moves forwards, hope and possibility for the future rises.” (Anonymous)
“This world is not democratic at all,” Galeano said in 2013. “The world is organized by the war economy and the war culture.”
On 18-24 April, 1955, twenty nine countries from Africa and Asia from the Global South held the Bandung conference in Indonesia with the objective of building inter-Asian-African cooperation and promoting complete decolonisation. Today on April 18, 2015, it is 60 years of that historic day that began the Bandung South-South Afro-Asian collaboration for decolonisation, development, independence and freedom. It is indeed a special day as today marks the Diamond Jubilee Year of the Bandung conference. It is important we remember this special day to build more hope and possibility to do re-thinking and re-learning in order to re-make world reorder on a new all-inclusive and shared culture, civilisation and history.
From Africa the following countries joined the Bandung Conference that started on April 18 and finished on 24 April, 1955: Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana (then called Gold Coast), Liberia, Libya and Sudan. From Asia the countries that played significant role have been the following: Indonesia, Burma, China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Bandung Conference inspired the creation of the non-aligned movement and the Third World by deciding not to side with either the Western powers lead by the USA or the Eastern bloc lead at the time, the former USSR during the Cold War. The conference also pledged not to rely on Western foreign aid but on building strong economic relations between Asia and Africa on the principle of mutual benefit and friendship.
- Lessons to Remember from Bandung 60 Years on
One of the key outcomes from the Bandung conference is the Afro-Asian hope to open the opportunity for the global South representing largely Asian, African, Latin American and Oceania to have a voice in world affairs. The creation of a non-alignment space to seek freedom from joining either the USA or the USSR camp was a clear objective. The choice to pursue agency to realise full independence from all forms of colonialism that much of Africa was still in, and the urgent need to deal with the risk of neo-colonialism by the recognition and appreciation to strengthen the formally independent Asian countries to remain free appeared to have motivated largely the Bandung gathering. The Bandung spirit and purpose was primarily driven and grounded to bring about a total post-colonial condition by removing the penetrability of the African, Asian, Oceania and Latin American peoples by opening the non-alignment route to independence and freedom. The objective was to try to identify and pursue ways and strategies of development along a decolonising trajectory free from the dictation of either the USA dominated world order or the attempt by the ex- USSR through the cold war to create an alternative non-capitalist driven world order.
Though in many ways the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, Indonesia was a turning point for attempting to construct a post-colonial international political order, we still live in a world where imperialism, colonialism, war, exploitation, injustice and unfairness continue to complicate the contemporary world political economic space. What was loudly voiced at the Bandung Conference as the anti-colonial spirit and the aspiration for building a world order that appreciates rather than ignores the Global South and the newly growing numbers of independent countries from colonialism still remain largely unfulfilled. Instead of decoloniality prevailing we have neo-colonialism penetrating most of the Global South. The state and condition of post-coloniality is still waiting to be realised. We need a new and revitalised Bandung Conference spirit and a strong Global South to put on the agenda a total post-colonial reality to guide the architecture of new global world re-order.
- World Order, Disorder and Reorder
Currently the world is undergoing an unpredictable state of world disorder. The Bandung conference in the 21st century should be revisited if only to help us all put on the agenda in promoting and creating the much needed predictable, stable, secure, peaceful, just, fair, equitable and sustainable world re-order. There is a real need to put first what was put last in order to remove the cost to the disadvantaged and create the opportunity for an equal partnership on the principle of mutual benefit to anchor all relationships amongst all nations on earth.. The strong traditional values like Ubuntu should be promoted to create a new humane civilisation that can anchor world diplomacy on deep principles that recognise and appreciate where to hurt any people and nation is tantamount to hurting all in the world. World diplomacy should be replaced from its current organised hypocrisy and instrumentality to Ubuntu world diplomacy with associational principles of social relations. A revitalised Bandung spirit is much needed with all leading Global South members such as China and India from Asia, Ethiopia, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria from Africa and Cuba and Brazil from Latin America and all others from all parts of the world bringing them all in equal terms without failing to share and care. The Bandung spirit can inspire the world to move in the most civilised and cultured trajectory ever by making all to gain and no one to loose.
There is a true need for the non-aligned movement to be revived and promoted freshly by learning from the Bandung conference’s 60 years’ journey and experience. The Global South can use the Bandung Conference to develop a distinct vision of new international world re- order by removing the current unsettling disorder for good that is leading the world astray.
It is pertinent to recognise that though the Bandung Conference had also brought about far-reaching impacts for the Global South, a completed post-colonial reality and world re- order still remain to be erected yet. During the Cold War the Bandung Conference gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement but not all the 77 are said to have followed a non-alignment policy and practice throughout the last 60 years. It is not clear how much world security and strategy was driven by the Bandung principle of non-alignment .In the political economy sphere also, the spirit of the Bandung Conference resulted in the Global South’s demand for the building of the New International Economic Order (NIEO) in the 1970s. There is no doubt that the Bandung Conference has attempted to put alternative to Western- or ex-USSR dominated world order or disorder without succeeding to create a new world order founded on new principles and humane civilisation.
- The Bandung Conference and the Future
Now it is time to re- think, re-educate ourselves about the “Bandung Conference and the future” in order to move from the current world order and disorder to a new international sustainable world order and architecture. The Bandung spirit must live on and the challenge today is to construct a fully inclusive world order that no one dominates, all are included, none are excluded, in fact the weak is supported, the strong are restrained and all participate and have a voice. There is a need to re-charge and animate the Bandung spirit to create this new world order. There is a need to re-learn the significance of Bandung Conference in order to construct a new global architecture anchored on values that can help in the making of a completely revamped and transformed international order, security and justice by creating a new post-western dominated world where all civilisations and identities converge. A new global project identity to unite the world onto travel on a new civilisation route is urgently needed. The Bandung spirit should be an inspiration for the inclusion of all to make one morally radiant, peaceful, stable and wellbeing anchoring world reorder.
It is critical to unearth and excavate also what knowledge of international relations has been gained and developed within the 60 years to revitalise the energy and commitment and thinking for the Global South to learn to deal with the world and respond to all challenges by creating a new world re-order agenda to make the people and the world free from domination by any power except to arm all nations to unite as one with shared principles, values and wellbeing for all and harm to none.
Today all countries may be in the UN, but the UN is still not a harbinger of a new world order based on a new civilisation that removes war for ever on this planet. We still live in a world order driven by superpower rivalry and domination. It is not a world order based on the will of all nations that are now members in the United Nations. It is not a world order that accommodates and includes the will of the many countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. It is a world order with super powers capable of projecting military power across the planet earth. It is a world order with gross deficit of morality, spirituality and deep values of Ubuntu diplomacy as the world has remained still largely and primarily driven by power, money, competition, markets, self-interest and organised hypocrisy. It is not a world order driven by principles, values, justice, fairness and humanity that protect the weak against the strong. A new space for all to be included, share both the cost and benefit of a civilised world order is urgently needed now more than at any time in world history.
We think reviving the Banding spirit at this time of the Diamond Jubilee will go a long way to re-think and re-learn the ups and downs the world has been going through to find novel and innovative ways to construct a new word reorder founded on shared culture and civilisation. The world has not entered the end of history; it is in fact at the beginning of history. The world does not need and should not be in a clash of civilisation; on the contrary it needs a new unified civilizational project in order to bring to birth a new world reorder.
- Bandung Spirit for Africa Unity for Renaissance
Education that combines the Bandung spirit of 60 years to the African unity for Renaissance of over 50 years is much needed to create a world reorder free from all forms of injustice. We have been undergoing a series of annual education conferences to remove the legacies of colonialism that dis-formed African-ness to remove fragmentation and psychic dislocation by trying to promote the Pan-African unity for renaissance project identity. The Afrophobia hatred to Africans against each other has continued to distract Africans to make the much needed unity to enjoy the rich resources Africa is endowed with by creating the systems, institutions and governance to share for building the wellbeing of all Africans by starting at the grassroots level.
In 2010 we started the series of conferences for education on the urgent need of why Africans should have united yesterday if not today. Our sisters and brothers from South Africa both from within the Government and all the non-Government partners have to be congratulated for supporting this African unity for renaissance series of conferences. This recent outbreak of Afrophobia is very strange as the support for African unity for renaissance from South Africa has been consistent and very inspiring. We were very proud for raising funds entirely from South African partners, and we never asked or raised any funds from any donor. The output from the series of Africa unity for renaissance conferences should be shared so that awareness and education can reach all Africans who should not only work for a united and prosperous Africa, but also for a new world order inspired by the Bandung spirit and African’s own rich values of Ubuntu.
Our first conference’s theme was “Putting African Unity First to Overcome the Scramble for Africa: Africa in the Twenty-First Century after the Quasquicentennial of the Scramble for Africa.” The second conference was a reflection on ‘The Africa Union Ten Years After’. The theme for the third conference was OAU/AU@50. The 4th Conference picked up and expanded upon through a focus on ‘OAU/AU@50 and Beyond,’ with special attention being paid to finding ‘African solutions to African problems’ (ASAP). The coming fifth conference is on 2015 and Beyond: Engaging Agenda 2063 that will take place on 22-25th May, 2015. .
Our books that we edited that are now published: African World: From Fragmentation to Unity and Renaissance; The African Union Ten Years After: Solving African Problems with Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance; and Unite or Perish: 50 Years after The Founding of the OAU. The fourth and fifth book will be published this year and next year.
We have also a series of Tshwane Declarations where the Third Declaration and the works of the Real African Books were shared by all the participants at the OAU/AU Jubilee @50. (https://africanunityforrenaissance.wordpress.com/)
Every May 25 annually is Africa Liberation Day. We encourage all African states to make it an African education day by combining the Bandung spirit with the objective of realizing fully the African unity and Renaissance project by making African identity the primary driver of African peace, prosperity, security and the making of a bright future for Africa and the rest of the world.
- Concluding Remark
Bandung’s 18 April like African Liberation Day’s May 25 should have been remembered especially at the time of the Diamond Jubilee time today. 18 April should be remembered as the Bandung-Inspired Reorder Day (BIRD) for making the world safe, healthy and peaceful by applying principles and cultures of sharing and caring. We thought it is important we remind us all not to miss this important Bandung Conference initiation date and call upon the whole world to prefer, value and choose by working very hard with honesty, sincerity and integrity to create a peaceful, fair, equitable, inclusive world order based on deep associational not instrumental values and principles to remember and use the date for deepening education by reaching all people across the world.
From 18-24 April, 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia- that should have been celebrated today- all the 29 participants of the time tried to introduce decolonial values as the principle for building a new world architecture as a pathway for making world progress. A Third World route as a vision for world re-order was crafted founded on ideas of completing decolonisation, and development based on freedom and independence. The Bandung Conference 60 years ago highlighted the importance of the global South playing a direct role in shaping the future and destiny of the world.
The question is how far Bandung 1955 succeeded to realise this great ambition to re-erect a new world order that included the hitherto colonised today? At the current Diamond Jubilee moment, it is time to reflect where the world has been, in order to learn better where it is and will be going currently and in the future.
A world re-order is much needed to save the planet. Epistemological disobedience to the current domination and a new epistemology for creating a new Bandung sprit to create a new world re-order is urgent. There is also a real need to put those that were put last like colonised Africa now to be first in order to remove disadvantaging anyone by erecting a new word reorder architecture. The African deep values of Ubuntu diplomacy built on principles of “I am because you are” should provide the epistemic virtue to found a sustainable global world order. Let us encourage all to act now and not tomorrow to create a new world order based on a just, fair, peaceful and democratic culture and civilisation.
 Mammo Muchie is DST/NRF Research Professor of Innovation and Development, Tshwane University of Technology, Senior Research Associate, TMDC, Oxford University, Adjunct Professor in ASTU and University of Gondar, Ethiopia, and Visiting Professor Shanghai University, China.(www.sarchi-steid.org.za )