Is African unity under threat from balkanization?

The late Osagyefo (Liberator) Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, known as the high priest of pan Africanism, penned a groundbreaking book entitled ‘Neo Colonialism- The last stage of Imperialism.’

The late Osagyefo (Liberator) Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, known as the high priest of pan Africanism, penned a groundbreaking book entitled ‘Neo Colonialism- The last stage of Imperialism.’

In it he outlined with great detail, the strategies employed by Imperialist powers in the new phase of their domination over Africa and the developing world in general- a phase commonly known as neo colonialism.

Nkrumah discussed in this book the mechanism of ‘balkanization,’ the process of divide and rule. Balkanization, as he argues, has been the most effective way of dominating Africa, as the Europeans began by carving up the continent into colonial territories (later to become unviable states) to ease the extraction of natural resources and also prevent any white blood shed on the black mans soil- and balkanization still continues today.

As our presidents convened in Accra, Ghana for three days in July 2007, to discuss ‘Continental Government for Africa,’ they seemed unaware that the agents of the imperialist powers had also pitched camp masquerading as observers and ‘development partners.’ 

Shortly after President John Kuffor of Ghana announced the hopeless ‘Accra Declaration’ which essentially reiterates the argument of the ‘Gradualist’ camp, certain Western powers once again demonstrated their mastery of the imperialist technique of balkanization.

The first example was the newly elected president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, who made his first trip outside of France as head of State to two former colonial territories that happen to be in Africa- Algeria and Tunisia.

Now, anybody who claims to keep a keen eye on International Affairs would find this fact quite disturbing. As we study in Diplomacy, nation states will always want to maintain good relations with their partners for as long as their interests are being met- more so once there has been any change of leadership.

However in this case, things took a different turn. Sarkozy’s priority was not to pay a courtesy call to Britain, America or any other fellow European heavy weight, but to two former colonial territories of north Africa- isn’t that something!

The questions should not stop there because what was more revealing was the purpose of Sarkozy’s trip. He carried with him a blueprint for what he calls the ‘Mediterranean Union.’

He proposed the creation of a Union between countries bordering the Mediterranean rim- essentially countries of Southern Europe, part of the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The Union is mainly Economic in nature, and plans to supposedly strengthen ‘development co-operation’, ‘war against terrorism,’ ‘curbing migration,’ and generally to ‘increase solidarity with concrete results’ as David Martinon (the presidential spokesperson) is quoted as having said.

Fate of African Union

So, now that the Imperialist power of France has seen that the African Union is not producing any ‘concrete results’, and in light of the common stance adopted by majority of our leaders in Accra- a pussyfooting approach to any Unified stance amongst the nations of Africa (still operating as colonial territories), their strategizers have crafted a more attractive package to lure Algeria and Tunisia, and possibly more North African countries, so that they would have to discard their membership to the African Union and effectively bring them under more direct influence of France and other European powers.

This confirms without any shadow of doubt that the Mediterranean Union as proposed by Sarkozy is nothing else but their latest balkanization project that is aimed at placing even more stumbling blocks on our path to African Unity.

It should also be noted that this project would also make more difficult our attempts at strengthening the unity between ‘Arab Africa’ and ‘Black Africa’- which is a divide that the Imperialists have always capitalized on and which Dr. Nkrumah was well aware of to the extent that he married an Egyptian woman despite the resistance amongst his close comrades so that he would lead by example and tell the rest of Africa that ‘if I can live with an Arab woman in West Africa, why cant we accept to unite amongst ourselves for the sake of the African cause?’ The Mediterranean Union is still in the process of negotiations (more like diplomatic arm twisting) and we are yet to know how far the enemies of African Unity will go to balkanize the continent. However, the fact is that once unmasked; the Mediterranean Union is a well calculated approach at dividing Africa even more for the sake of servicing the interests of the Imperialist Powers and to maintain Africa in its lowly position in the International arena.


On February 6, 2007, President George Bush announced the creation of a unified military command for the whole African continent. Currently, Africa is divided among three combatant commands: U.S. Central Command, which oversees Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya; U.S. Pacific Command, which oversees Madagascar, the Seychelles and the Indian Ocean area off the African coast; and the U.S. European Command, which is responsible for the rest of the nations in the African mainland.

In one of the articles published on the Department of Defence Website, President Bush is quoted as saying that the ‘Africa Command will enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy and economic growth in Africa.’

It would be in order to be sceptical of this unified Military Command, especially of its timing. America is currently sunk deep to its feet in Iraq as their young and pampered American soldiers equipped with sophisticated weaponry are being shocked by their fellow youth who strap home-made bombs to themselves and are readily blowing themselves up for the cause of Independence from American Occupation. For sometime, the American propaganda (brought to us in Africa by CNN) had led us to believe that the Iraq war would be a walk in the park; however as has been wonderfully reported by Al Jazeera News Network, the resistance put up by the Iraqi people and their comrades, fuelled by the aggressive foreign policy of Imperialist America, is now overwhelming the arrogant Americans to the extent that the focus has shifted from ‘how best to win the war’ to ‘how best to loose the war.’

Seeking other alternatives

This instability has affected Americas grip on the taps of Middle East oil and has now forced them to seek other relatively easier soils to pitch camp and establish their control. Africa seems to be the best place at this time; Latin America has made its voice heard by the likes of Chavez and Morales that the days of neo colonialism have come to an end.

Russia is not accommodating any arm-twisting from Britain and America, and so the last resort is the African continent- the only place where the unity of a continent for its own protection is being fought by the leaders of the continent itself! As much as President Bush and his hawkish advisors would like us to be fooled by this latest attempt at neo colonialism, we should not allow this to continue.

 African leaders such as Thabo Mbeki support a gradualist approach to African Unity- yet you will see South African shopping malls, banks, supermarkets and other industries springing up all over the continent.

 They want their capital to pan Africanize but not the people to be free to move around! Indeed, sometimes our greatest enemy is ourselves, and in the case of African unity, we need to consider whether our understanding of our attitude towards African Unity is in the right place.

Dr. Nkrumah would respond to the gradualists by telling them that even though Africa cannot unite overnight, it is being forced to unite in some form because of Imperialist pressure.

No wonder, he always agitated with the slogan ‘Africa must unite or perish.’

  This is what I mean by Imperatives for African Unity- yes, we would all be gradualists when it comes to Integration and Unity if the International System was merely a bed of roses, also because it is the most practical and sustainable way; but we need a radical approach because the Imperialist forces do not sit down and wait for our Regional Economic Communities to strengthen.

They do not tap us on our backs for developing infrastructure that will allow for our people to move freely, they are not smiling and supporting us when we bring up the debate of African Unity; they fund our national budgets because they want to keep us dependent, and a unified Africa would pose a major threat to the interests of International Financial Capital and potentially alter the course of International Relations- where peace, justice, and humanity are placed before capital.

America is consolidating its military command for Africa in order to have a direct mechanism to destabilize the continent thus retaining their control of our natural resources.

Just as the Western powers did to Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, who’s body was diced up with a hacksaw and thrown into Sulphuric Acid to do away with any evidence, all because he spoke passionately of how he planned to use the Congo’s vast resources not only for the people of the Congo, but for the African Continent; we have to recognize that Imperialism is always radical and does not believe in gradual processes.

They will go a long way to ‘gradualize’ African Unity because that will forever keep us in our destitute condition.

Therefore, there cannot be such a thing as a gradualist pan Africanist, at least not in the current International Relations configuration of neo liberal capitalist globalization.

 The only progressive pan Africanist is one who is impelled by the continued neo colonialist mechanisms of the Imperialist powers; pan Africanism today should remain radical and agitate for African Unity Now!

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