THE SUMMIT of Heads of State of the East African Community partner states held in Kampala, Uganda, ended last Saturday. As summit meetings go, it can be said to have been successful.The usual business was conducted, at the end of which a communiqué meant to say all and reveal nothing was issued. Photos were taken. The club of East Africa’s top bureaucrats became wider as acquaintances were renewed and new ones made. The chiefs of state met, all five of them, and presumably talked about weighty matters of the region. They probably solved some teething problems and gave instructions to their staff to follow through on the decisions they made. One can imagine (hope, really) that they mended fences where they had been broken and that the atmosphere was the right one to soothe hurt egos. Above all, we can expect that the spirit of East Africa took complete possession of the five summiteers and that the picture of ordinary East Africans going about their daily business, wishing to work more closely and trade more with neighbours and move among them freely loomed large before their eyes. Most significantly, they signed the Protocol on Monetary Union, one of the major building blocks of a truly integrated East Africa. It comes to join two others – the Common Market and Customs Union protocols – that have not been quite off the ground. Lately, though, there has been significant movement on the customs union front with the decision of some partner states to have a single customs territory up and running by January 2014.East Africans of goodwill must be praying that the monetary union protocol meets a better fate than the other two. Maybe it could benefit from a new found willingness to get things moving. So, yes, measured against the logic and nature of most such summits, the Kampala summit may be said to have been successful. There was another level of significance to it. It had been awaited with much anticipation, following talk of isolation of some members, splits within the bloc and alternative plans by different factions. The summit was expected to answer some of these issues, allay fears of exclusion and imminent division and calm rising tempers that had reached dangerous levels in some quarters. The fact that all the Heads of State attended is significant. They appear to have sent a message that all the doomsday stories were grossly exaggerated, or at any rate that they were ready to work on any issues that may have given rise to the stories in the first place. To that extent, therefore, the Kampala summit reaffirmed that the East African Community is alive and well and that talk of its early demise is only wishful thinking. Enthusiasts of African unity and other sensible people want to believe that, of course. And so, can we now breathe a collective sigh of relief that all is as it was in the beginning and ever shall be until we reach an East African heaven by way of federation? Probably not, but that does not stop anyone from hoping and praying, especially now that passions seem to have been calmed and reason may yet prevail. It is also possible to talk about more positive East African matters with the same fervour and creativity that a possible break-up had excited. The run up to the Kampala summit brought up some very interesting developments – some quite imaginative; others, well, rather childish. For a while the pace of integration was frustrating to some countries. So Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda got together to speed up things and hopefully nudge the others into a similar mode. Commentators showed a keen sense of history and ability to use it to create a divisive atmosphere. The trio were soon dubbed the Coalition of the Willing, a reference to US President George Bush’s war in the Gulf that had polarised world opinion. Respective apologists of those who wanted to move fast or those with a wait and see attitude coined appropriate descriptions. Some were sprinters while the others were laggards, or they were impatient and in a rush while the other group were deliberate and measured in their approach.We heard of divorce, new courtship and remarriage to more understanding suitors, who it was said, were in abundant supply. Then there were threats of political and economic realignment. This had the air of children at play where one sulks at playmates for being left out even if it is only for a moment. Such will say: If you don’t want to play with me, I‘ll turn to so and so, even when it is known that other one is incapable of play. And so it was that we heard that if the so-called coalition of the willing was doing their thing, the others – Tanzania and Burundi – would get together with DR Congo and do theirs. Not bad really if something good can come out of such a sulky spite. The development of the central corridor infrastructure and the possibility of turning DRC’s jungle footpaths into roads and railways would be an immense achievement. It is certainly good for increased trade and integration on a wider scale. A little tiff between partners may not be bad after all.