More views on African Unity

Publié le par hort

Leaders reject pan-African dream
General News of Tuesday, 3 July 2007 

Southern and East African leaders have rejected plans to set up a pan-African government, as suggested by Libya's head of state Colonel Moamar Gaddafi.

Uganda's Yoweri Museveni says he backs economic integration but says Africa is too diverse for one government.Senegal, however, backed the plans and says a breakaway group could be formed.Ghana's Foreign Minister believes problems are inevitable but can be overcome as the European Union has done. African leaders split on unity An African Union summit in Ghana has overrun after leaders struggled to reach a compromise on moves to form a closer union.

The three-day meeting has been dominated by calls for a so-called United States of Africa but while member nations agree on the goal of economic integration and eventual unity, most leaders have urged caution.

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, and Abdoulaye Wade, the Senegalese president, lead a group of countries who have been pushing for the immediate creation of a federal state.On Tuesday, Gaddafi called for a referendum to settle the issue.

"We ask all the heads of state to hold a referendum so that they will see that all the people want a United States of Africa," he said in a speech to the summit.  Wade also promoted the creation of a federal government when he spoke to journalists late on Monday. "There is no salvation for Africa outside political unity. ... If we remain fragmented into little states, we will remain weak, politically weak," he said.

Asked about earlier Senegalese threats that a group of , five or six states could forge ahead with federation, Wade said: "Theoretically, it is not excluded ... but I don't think we'll be going in that direction."If the conference as a whole makes progress towards a government that it calls a continental government , a union government ... that will create a basis that we can accept."

Other countries, including the big regional powers of Nigeria and South Africa, have called for a more gradual move towards greater union."In Uganda, we are not in favour of forming a continental government now," Yoweri Museveni, theUgandan president, said.He said that while economic integration was possible, people from different regions of Africa were incompatible politically and forcing them together would create tension.

Complex situation

"I salute the enthusiasm of those who advocate for continental government now. I however, do not want us to move from one mistake - Balkanisation - to another mistake of oversimplification of very complex situations," Museveni said. Pakalitha Mosisili, Lesotho's prime minister, summed up the view of the moderates: "Even as we pursue this noble objective, we cannot ignore the factors that, militate against it." He said surrender of national sovereignty was a "tall order". Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ghana, said questions also remain over who will pay for a united Africa.

"Most African countries can't even fund themselves, sowill they ask the World Bank to give them money, andif they do what strings will come attached to it," she said.

Say it with flowers
Neo-colonialism predominates, but the challenge of African unity lives on, writes Gamal Nkrumah

They cut the ground from under his feet, and he declined to attend the summit in protest, much to the consternation of his Ghanaian hosts. African leaders thwarted the plan of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to create a United States of Africa. The fiat put a gravely wounded, albeit noble, plan out of its misery. For reasons I could not begin to fathom, the African leaders declined to debate the most pressing challenges facing the continent -- abject poverty, HIV/AIDS, and underdevelopment. Instead, they insisted on contesting the meaningfulness of African unity. They slammed the idea, preferring the delaying tactics of yesteryear.

My first feeling was bitter disappointment. And then I wondered why I should be surprised. In actual fact, the continent labours under the legacy of neo- colonialism less than the official pussyfooting. One wonders what exactly is the point of such expensive talking shops.

The striking feature about this year's AU summit is how much constancy there is at the top and how much Pandemonium there is below. African leaders meeting in Accra reiterated the old assertion that the time is not ripe for a United States of Africa. This was the same excuse given to Kwame Nkrumah more than four decades ago when he first proposed continental unity.

The old taunt reflects a deep commitment to the political disunity of Africa by the continent's leaders. The notion of continental African unity was bruited in Accra 2007 as it has been done in the days of the most vociferous proponent of African unity, Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah. Indeed, it is somewhat prophetic that on the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence, the very idea of African unity would be so trumpeted. But there is nothing behind these mouthings. It is almost impossible to prove that superpower manipulation is taking place. This may be more than a hypothetical scenario. But if history is any guide, the notion of African unity will be downplayed at any summit in the foreseeable future.

The silver lining is that the very notion of African unity remains an unmitigated dream for the people. So the outcome of the Accra summit does the issue of African unity little lasting damage. The very notion of African continental unity has enormous public appeal in Africa and across the pan-African Diaspora. It has become abundantly evident that the concept of African unity has survived the test of time. African leaders might shy away from its significance, but the African masses instinctively warm to the idea.

And while economic union is encouraged at some theoretical level, political unity is out of the question as far as African leaders are concerned since it impinges on the sovereignty of African nation states.

There was an almighty row in Accra. Gaddafi was furious that African "opt outs" eroded his dream of a United States of Africa. He set up his tent in the Ghanaian capital and refused to participate in the official deliberations of the AU summit. He claims today to be the main champion of African unity. As it happens, he had previously upheld Arab unity as the ideal, the panacea to all the economic and socio- political woes of the Arab world. Today, he strongly believes that the future of Arab prosperity lies in the political unification and economic integration of the African continent.

Historians may reflect that Africa's bitter and epic debate about African unity mirrors the chaotic nature of African politics, the scramble for democracy and economic reform amid the neocolonial backdrop. Meanwhile, tycoons buy votes in suspect elections and foreign powers dictate the pace of political liberalisation and economic deregulation. Sadly, African leaders have clearly chosen to blindly obey the deus ex machina of Western imperialism.

And at what cost to itself? Nobody can fathom the real cost, but in many people's estimation it is dear. "My vision is to wake up the African leaders to unify our continent," Chairman of the AU Alpha Omar Konare told reporters in Accra. He urged African leaders to "take the bull by the horns and move towards a new country -- Africa". His plea fell on deaf ears.

As news of the Libyan leader's plan for a United States of Africa filtered down to a packed audience, it quickly became clear that the majority objected to his plans. But nonetheless, in an unprecedented development nearly every African leader of the 53 member-state AU turned up in the Ghanaian capital. The political will to unify the continent might still be lacking, but the determination to make the continent work was all too apparent in Accra.

In that most clichéd of African capitals, Accra -- replete with historical symbolism -- the future of the continent was hotly debated. The choice of venue for this year's AU summit was specifically designed to pay tribute to Ghana's shining example as one of the most vibrant democracies in all Africa. Enjoying a buoyant economy, Ghana is among a number of countries in the continent that are experiencing phenomenal economic growth rates. Such a bonanza might have overwhelmed a less consequential city. In spite of the widespread and crippling poverty, many African economies are booming. A country like Angola is experiencing growth rates of 35 per cent, the highest in the whole world.

All that glitters is not gold, however. Africa faces critical challenges and the debate over African unity must not ignore the economic quandary the vast ajority of Africans find themselves in – the oblessness of the youth and the health and education rises. One can perhaps understand the lassitude of frican leaders, burdened by so many problems.

Halfway through his opening speech Ghanaian President ohn Kufuor paid special tribute to Nkrumah, the first nd foremost proponent of African Unity. Looking relieved and despite the two-day cliffhanger, he stressed that no African leader disputed the vital necessity of closer political and economic collaboration.

Heavyweights such as Nigeria and South Africa have been the major brake on plans to create a United States of Africa. However, the AU Accra summit proved to be a golden opportunity for striking bilateral economic and trade deals.

President Hosni Mubarak made a rare appearance at an African summit. He flew out to Accra because he recognised the significance of this year's AU summit meeting. Accompanying President Mubarak were the Minister of Information Anas El-Fiqi, Minister of Housing Ahmed El-Maghrabi, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Amin Abaza, National Security and General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, and Presidential Chief of Staff Zakaria Azmi. Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit flew to Ghana earlier to participate in the AU foreign ministers preparatory meeting. This was an unprecedented high-powered, large and diversified Egyptian delegation to an AU summit. These are, indeed, interesting times.

For me personally, the touching gesture by Abul- Gheit of placing a floral bouquet at the grave of my recently deceased mother in my father's mausoleum in Accra symbolised the enduring significance of African continental unity. It recaptured, in a fleeting glimpse, the energy of the heady days of yesteryear.

Hort's comments

It is important to start thinking and talking about African unity although we know that it cannot become a reality until Pan African leaders begin to hold the reigns of power in the motherland. At the moment, the old colonialist guard are still in control, so our job is to prepare the ground work for the future. Some of the practical things that can be done today is to start teaching African children in schools about the cultural unity of Africa as this would greatly advance the cause of African unity in future.  Why start Nigerian history from the arrival of the Europeans in Africa? Why not start from the Nok civilization which is indigenous to Nigeria? More economic and cultural exchange should also be encouraged between between African countries, but, African unity will continue to remain a pipe dream until order has been restored in the chaotic minds of African people.

Publié dans contemporary africa

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