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Africa on the road to freedom

Qiraat Magazine Editorial


Islam came to liberate people from being slavery to humans into being slaves of God Almighty alone. Islam is the religion of freedom, and therefore Islam stands in the way of any forces that prevent man from enjoying his freedoms, dignity and humanity.

Freedom is the lifeblood of the human being, it is the source of energy that enables him for creativity and exertion of effort. If man lost his freedom, he will lost with it his taste of life, even if he had the luxury of all means, as it is a cornerstone that enables him to feel his humanity.

Freedom is the way for societies to achieve advancement and the promotion of values of justice and dignity. It leads the person to free himself from the social and psychological obstacles that hinder him from performing his active role in the development of his energies and skills. He can express himself, his opinions and ideas, and can express people's concerns, problems and needs. It drives people to participate positively in decision-making and to support it, and in bringing about change in societies for the better, which contribute to the phenomenon of social control and positivism, which protects societies from corruption, deviation and fall. As freedoms produce systems, states and societies more mature and civilized, while suppression of freedoms and the absence of the values ​​of justice and dignity generates conflicts, fighting, division, and total failure.

The progress and development of nations is measured by their freedoms and values ​​and their respect for human beings. There is a balance between freedom and renaissance. A society can only advance and progress when its members feel freedom, dignity and justice.

If we look at Africa, we find that it has suffered from the absence of freedoms and human rights more than any other continent in the world, since the occupation of the European  powers puts its feet in the land of Africa in the sixteenth century, when they wreaked havoc and exterminated the existed African civilizations and destroyed the kingdoms of African countries at that time, and destroyed heritage, then they committed the most heinous crimes to the African human himself; as they turned human beings into commodities that are being bought and sold, and thus they demolished the freedoms of Africans .

Then began the era which was the worst thing that passed through African history, and then came the decisions of Benin Conference (1884 - 1885), Which legitimized what the occupation done from theft, plundering and enslave of human, the west through this conference divided Africa among them as if it were a legitimate heritage, as Africa did not enjoy freedom or elements of natural life, but became permissible to drainage and exploitation of everything in it, starting from land and ending with human himself.

The Western occupier knew that he will never survive in his new settlements except by eliminating the liberties of individuals and turning them into slaves who obey, and remained a western policies even after they went out of Africa during the periods known as liberation movements in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. But they remained in control of the new regimes that ruled the African countries with the same dictatorial approaches that destroyed freedoms and converted Africa into a tight prisons for its children. Africa continued to turn from regime to regime through coups, conflicts and wars that destroyed any hope for freedom.

But with the openness and the spread of communication and awareness among peoples , and the spread of education, culture and the revival of African identity the awareness among African peoples increased and so the aspiration of freedom and dignity So day after another, the demands for freedoms and rights are increasing, as the African realized the pressing need for freedom, and then we witnessed the emergence of movements calling for freedom in African societies, and the regimes felt the boiling among their peoples, so many countries sought to ease their grip and slowly opened the door for partial freedom of peoples.

Despite the inauguration of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter) which is an international treaty drafted by African states under the umbrella of the Organization of African Unity (Currently African Union) in 27th of June 1981; but it did not optimally reflect the aspirations of the African peoples and remained an ink on paper in most periods.

In the Charter preamble[1], member states countries undertook to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa, to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa and to promote international cooperation having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

Taking into consideration the virtues of their historical tradition and the values of African civilization which should inspire and characterize their reflection on the concept of human and peoples’ rights;

Considering that the enjoyment of rights and freedoms also implies the performance of duties on the part of everyone’.

It has not yet been able to achieve the minimum basis of this preamble or other articles of the Charter.

Freedoms cannot be brought by international, regional or local laws or charters, but freedom is an innate instinct that man seeks as he seeks to eat, drink and dress. Therefore, it is the people who are mandated to demand and maintain their freedom.

And Africa that smelled the winds of change and democratic pluralism at the beginning of the 1990s, while we thought that the one-party system era has gone forever, there were only six out of the fifty-five presidents who ruled the African continent since the independence of the states until that date were voluntarily left.

The remaining one hundred and forty-four Presidents are either still in power or ousted in a military coup, killed, imprisoned, displaced or died in power. Although this gloomy picture has relatively improved, the latest report by Freedom House in February 2017 states that the climate of public freedoms in Africa is "steadily improving". The report examined the cases of all the African 54 countries, only 10 of them are enjoying full freedom, while 21 are partial freedoms, while the other 23 states are still without freedoms.

2017 witnessed 11 elections in Africa between presidential and legislative, while the 2016 witnessed sixteen one, meaning that 27 African countries out of 54, witnessed elections that can to some extent materialize how these African regimes practice democracy and good governance in their elections that can lead – even theoretically – to a democratic systems, that can fortify good governance and democracy that have been absent from the African continent[2].

Although this freedoms are still incomplete, the hopes, aspirations and dreams of the African peoples transcend political freedom, as they aspire to a comprehensive freedom in all aspects of life, freedom that can lead to advance and progress to make Africans stand in the ranks of civilized countries, as they possess cultural and civilizational heritage that it surpasses with it many of the great nations that enjoy the blessings of freedom and justice.

It is hoped that the peoples of Africa and their will, as well as those educated elite who realized the importance of education, and recognized the truth of their identity, to demand comprehensive freedoms, and to bring about the desired change in societies so that Africa can rise again and remove the dust of exploitation, destruction and backwardness, and to restore its civilization and status.

[1] Draft of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on:

[2] Al-Jazira Center for Studies , Democracy in Africa: a Reading on its Path and Destiny , Sidi Ahmed Ould El-Amir ,