Another African Union Summit, another attempt by the Libyan supremo Muammar Gaddafi to put the political union of Africa to the fore of the summits discussions and another diplomatic quickstep to tactfully kill his proposals-remember, they can’t just laugh him off, he has deep pockets and if the Great Leader sneezed many an African leader could catch a cold.
Honestly, I think this farce has gone on too long, and despite a part of me wishing it so, I have to declare the notion of a U.S.A (United States of Africa) a stillborn child. I don’t think that the child had the chance to see the light of day.
The notion of a united Africa isn’t a Gaddafi brainwave; it belonged to the great African leaders Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Abel Nasser of Egypt, Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania and Sekou Toure of Guinea.
But even back in the 60’s, when just after the shackles of colonialism had been shed and most African nations had a certain similar standard of living, the idea of a country called ‘Africa’ was an indigestible to the majority of African statesmen.
Why, for one simple reason, their wish to rule their ‘own’ little fiefdoms without the bother of an external Big Brother. So, while the Pan-Africanist’s amongst ourselves look beyond the horizons and see the ugly hand of international capitalism at play, I, and any right thinking person, knows that the villains are closer to home.
For while the white man had, supposedly, gone home with the same colonial mentality which had permeated the African ruling elite.
The citizens simply exchanged their white masters for black ones; this was a situation which, I think, gave Franz Fanon the title of his book, “Black Men, White Masks”.
This isn’t the 1960’s anymore, the Cold War is in the dustbins of history, the World Wide Web has connected the world in a way that no one could ever imagine but some things haven’t changed with the times.
Still Africa deals with leaders that think their country owes them a plush living and they’ll be, rightly, loathe losing their executive privileges.
I mean, imagine that Robert Mugabe, instead of being president of Zimbabwe, was just a Governor of that area. He wouldn’t have had a chance in hell to wreck his ‘province’ to the extent he’s brought Zimbabwe to.
Who’d have stood and watched him rundown his country if he wasn’t the leader of a ‘sovereign nation”? I’d wager that he’d have barely lasted three months in power if the people of Africa had a real say in the running of ‘his’ country.
So, while the people might want to enjoy the fruits of a political and economic union, as long as the political leaders are the fellows voting on it, I don’t see any progress in that vein.
And anyway, who can blame them…as, former Ugandan President Godfrey Binaisa once said, “Entebbe ewooma’ (power is sweet).
So, our leaders, for reasons that I can totally understand, have put the idea on the backburner. However, I have another reason, beyond our leader’s greed, that is stopping the union of Africa from being a reality; Simple economics.
Let us look at various African nations’ economies— we have the powerhouse of South Africa on one side and the shambolic Somali on the other.
We have Rwanda, which is attempting to be a no-go area where corruption is concerned, on one hand, and we have Kenya, where the moniker “Nairobbery” is as well known as the quintessential Kenyan slogan of “Jambo Bwana”.
We cannot live in a continent of such differing economic statuses and ideals and still wish for a continental government. The best example of regional economic and political integration is the European Union (EU).
But if you look at the genesis of the present-day EU, you’ll find that certain standards were maintained by the member states by treaty obligation.
Without going into the technicalities of the different obligations of each and every member State, it’s obvious that the European Union is the amalgamation of pseudo- partners.
So while the economies of France, Britain and Germany are the Big Daddy’s of the EU, all EU members have certain standards that are universally acknowledged as ‘normal’.
Until each and every African nation has a certain level of economic and political maturity, I don’t think we should even bother with Gaddafi’s rhetoric. I just hate having to concede that point.