By Alagi Yorro Jallow

The African Union and African leaders are not ending the decades of shame and disgrace in Africa. Africa is entering a season of unprecedented growth and increase. Africa is in a season of African renaissance in technology, agriculture, industry and education.

Africa as a continent cannot continue depend on the United States of America, the European Union, China, IMF, the World Bank or Asia. Africa must write her own story. African Union must break the mental limitations and deliberately take steps towards progress, prosperity and freedom. Let the AU with great haste seize the moment and take possession for the emancipation of the continent Africa.

The African Union has worked towards achieving some of its objectives (on paper). It has, however, mainly been a platform for African leaders to rile at the imperialistic West for meddling in their affairs and driving an agenda that is not in the best interests of Africa. Do African leaders have the best interests of Africans at heart? African leaders meet at AU summits to give fiery speeches followed by spells of ‘doing-nothing-ism’ Simply put, the AU has the bark of a bulldog, and the bite of a poodle. This is because it’s yet to become independent – and ultimately, politically useless.

The African Union and African leaders are not ending the decades of shame and disgrace in Africa. Africa is entering a season of unprecedented growth and increase. Africa is in a season of African renaissance in technology, agriculture, industry and education.

President Donald Trump said the United States will revoke Mauritania’s preferred trade status in January because of its failure to make progress on human rights – namely, slavery. Mauritania will no longer be eligible for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which affects market access, investment, and reduced or eliminated tariffs on U.S. imports.

“I am providing notice of my intent to terminate the designation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Mauritania) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country,” Trump said in a letter to U.S. legislators. He cited Mauritania’s failure to protect workers, as required under a key AGOA provision, as the reason.

Africa as a continent cannot continue depend on World Bank, IMF, China or the West. Africa must write her own story. African Union must break the mental limitations and deliberately take steps towards progress, prosperity and freedom.

Let the AU with great haste seize the moment and take possession for the emancipation of the continent Africa.

“Mauritania has made insufficient progress toward combating forced labor, specifically, the scourge of hereditary slavery,” Trump said.  “Despite intensive engagement with the United States, the Government of Mauritania has failed to meet critical required benchmarks to address these issues to date.” Mauritania will be removed as an AGOA partner on January 1, 2019, although the U.S. government will continue to monitor its progress.

This year in July, Mauritania hosted an African Union summit. But at the meeting of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Nouakchott, the issue of slavery was not raised in public discussions. A communiqué issued by the commission also makes no mention of slavery at all. Will the African Union be prepared to take a public position on the issue, as it did when leaders strongly condemned reports of modern-day slavery in Libya last year?

International law is emphatically against slavery, having prohibited it at the 1926 Slavery Convention, which was detailed further by the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery. Though Mauritania only acceded to these conventions in 1986, the prohibition of slavery is also a peremptory or absolute norm in international customary law. This means that the ban on slavery binds every country, without exception, regardless of which treaties they have acceded to. The African Union! Sigh… No bark, no bite. Powerless organization as far as protecting Africa’s interests goes. That leaves each country with the responsibility to protect its own interests. It all comes back to this: exemplary political leadership that will ensure rule of law, thriving of its own citizens as a priority, non-nonsense win-win contracts with rich countries; contracts that do not sell out Africa’s human and mineral resources just to enrich a few. With a protectionist and Africa-first approach, you will not have thousands of Africans fleeing their own plundered countries to search for better life in America, Europe and the Middle East.

One could say- but the numbers of those fleeing and getting sold is negligible compared to a rising African middle class (“fastest growing middle class in the world”) and the entire continent’s population.  Let’s agree that knowing our history as Africans, just one slave sold is a total abomination. And that rising African middle-class floats on an economy that can go south in a second, primarily because of bad politics. Darn shame all African presidents watching your citizens take a chance on freedom even if it comes with the possibility of getting sold into slavery in the 21st Century.

The silent plunder of Africa’s resources that never ceases, with African leaders being enablers of the plunder through greed-driven contracts like (so-called MoU) of Hon. Hatmat Bah. The number of those who die and/or get tortured as indentured laborers or maids is huge in the Africa and in the Middle East. The shift towards the Sahel region and the growing brazenness of 21st century indentured labor into full-blown slavery with live auctions of human merchandise is only now being “discovered” by mainstream and social media. Biggest disappointment?

American labor leaders warned last year that conditions in Mauritania should disqualify the nation from participating in AGOA. Activists say Mauritania has seen renewed arrests of anti-slavery activists, in a nation where tougher anti-slavery measures were enacted in 2015 but the rate continues to be one of the highest in the world, according to the Global Slavery Index.