Hastily planned and executed United States of Africa will have similar or worse consequences than the partition of Africa
At the just concluded African Union summit, once again, the romanticised idea of a United States of Africa, trumpeted by the Libya’s strongman Muammar al-Gaddhafi, now AU chairman, got some valuable airtime. It is not a new idea.
Kwame Nkrumah, at the attainment of Ghanaian independence championed the idea of the “USA” as a restoration of Africa’s might against the colonial demarcation of the continent into artificial bits and pieces.
He himself did not rule long enough before he fell to Africa’s chronic political problem of military coups which in some circles was said to be partly a result of western powers’ unease of his pan-African ideologies.
In the wake of European integration, the economic might of China, a fast developing India, the Russian attempts to exercise control over independent territories formerly in the Soviet Union, and the dwindling economic means of the world’s super power, the real USA— a United States of Africa would appear to balance the global political and economic equation for Africa.
The truth however is that Africa is further from being united in a political confederation than anyone may suppose. The common denominator of sub-Saharan Africa is colonialism and the quest to exploit Africa’s resources alongside its poverty to satisfy foreign interests.
The cold war is a perfect example of how foreign powers attempted to set up offshore command posts for western proxies in Africa.
In Angola’s long and bitter civil war, the cold war was played out in the battlefields long after it had officially ended.
Many of Africa’s young nations have very challenging internal political issues that originate from colonial mistakes and require a long time before we can even think about integrating into a pan-African political federation.
In Europe, the distinct national identities can withstand Europeanisation. What about Africa’s young and struggling national identities?
Even so, the recent referendum on EU policies have faced such challenges in countries like Ireland and France so much so that were it not for the unwavering commitment of political leaders, the EU would have been in doldrums.
In the interest of pan-Africanism, a form of economic union initially is necessary for Africa to compete favourably with other economic powers of the world and to avoid economic bullying by these powers as is the case with the current unfair rules of trade under the world trade organisation.
The East Africa Community (EAC), the South African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are such good initiatives.
I believe that those initiates at African integration will eventually grow into each other to result in a powerful pan-Africa bloc that may eventually evolve on the lines of the European Economic Community to the European Union.
For all its good intentions, the current push for our own USA is bound to run into dangerous waters.
First, Gaddhafi interests in this union are very suspect. It is not long ago that he was hobnobbing with Arab colleagues and claiming that North Africa was more into the Arab world than in Africa. He strongly championed pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism until when it was clear that it was simply not going to happen.
This new comradeship which he has developed for black African nations indicates that perhaps he has seen the light.
He talks pan-africanism at the AU summit while he is smooching with traditional African leaders who in various nations present potential political complications to their elected governments.
It should also raise eyebrows that the king of Benin is already refereeing to him as the “King of Kings.”
Gaddhafi, for all his long respected statesmanship and wise guidance of Libya, is not famous for his democratic ideals.
Africa shouldn’t be the excuse for Gaddhafi’s project to repatriate his international image.
We need to make a united stand as Africa in face of globalisation in order to survive the vicious cycle of poverty, and conflicting foreign interests that are apart from our own interests.
But hastily planned and executed United States of Africa will have similar or worse consequences than the partition of Africa.