The formation of the first East African Community

The formation of a nation is a difficult and long process. There must be nationalist leaders with visions that will be realised when they are not alive. Such leaders build strong institutions on which the unity of the nation will be base.

The formation of a nation is a difficult and long process. There must be nationalist leaders with visions that will be realised when they are not alive. Such leaders build strong institutions on which the unity of the nation will be base.

I think here in Rwanda, we can learn a good lesson from our present, His Excellency Paul Kagame when he talks of building national institutions.

This is what has lacked ever since the advent of the Europeans in Africa in general and in Rwanda in particular.

Here in Rwanda, we had good leaders before the coming of the white man.

The time has now come again with the liberation of our country. What we need to do now is to listen and follow the advice of our Head of State. We now have to revive and rebuild our nation and go ahead to federate with the others in EAC and even in DRC.

In my article in this Newspaper, I wrote about the historic origin and back ground of the East African Community.

This community was officially formed and launched in 1967 by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda a few years after they obtained their independence.

The three leaders that formed this community had different views about that community. Only one of the three leaders had a true and nationalistic vision to build unity of those three States and that was Late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere of Tanzania.

Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya was a parochial Kikuyu tribal chief in Kenya while Milton Obote who was a purely opportunist politician.

Anyway, since these  countries found the British Colonial infrastructure of unity in services such an East African Common Services Organization grouping airways, railways and harbors, Posts and Telecommunications, Currency, Customs, Income taxes, etc.

This organization was controlling those services within those three countries Mwalimu J.K Nyerere thought it was a good opportunity for the people of East Africa under the unity of those services to go ahead and unite to make EAST AFRICAN FEDERATION to form one country since the people of these countries were united by these services and could move and settle freely anywhere as they so wished.

Mwalimu Nyerere called for a summit of Heads of State in Arusha-Tanzania to showcase why they should federate. However, the other national leaders said that independence was still ‘sweet’.

Since that East African Common Services Organisation was still in force they decided to launch a common market under the umbrella of the East African Community.

That is what was done in 1967 and this common market was launched and inaugurated that time in Arusha where was its Headquarters with the objective to federate within at least ten years to come.

The African initiative of unity took off and most of the other African States saw it an example to emulate.

They forgot that East African experience was built on the colonial enterprise which was built to control the British interests.

The British colonial State and British private enterprises had invested into this organization and were.

This will be the subject to deal with next time; this British influence caused the break-up of the East African Community. 
kaikipata@yahoo.com

The author is a retired teacher and  Pan Africanist                   

 

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