Sunday, July 01, 2007
Sunday July 01, 2007 [04:00]
The idea of a United States of Africa is definitely something worth aiming for, a worthwhile endeavour for the future. But we have a lot of work that needs to be done for us to get to that point. The dream of a United States of Africa can only become a reality if certain prerequisites to put up a new model of a multilateral state are met.
No one can question the need for such a state in Africa. And that is why it has been the great dream cherished from the earliest days of Pan-Africanism; it is the only chance of meeting the challenges of globalisation.
But we shouldn’t deceive ourselves that the United States of Africa will answer all our problems as a continent. We have many problems as individual states today and we will have even bigger and more complex ones if we come together to form a multinational state. What we will be doing is to aggregate our problems. Even if there is synergy, piling up our problems together does not automatically reduce them. Yes, there is strength in unity. But that strength can only be realised if the right form of unity is pursued and attained.
Our individual countries in Africa are still experiencing a lot of problems in terms of national consolidation. We are still experiencing a lot of disunity and ethnic rivalry within individual nations. We therefore need to work on organisation at every level in our individual states and make adequate improvements on good governance. In our view, what we need right now is for the African Union to work tirelessly and improve the quality of governance in every member country.
The other thing that we need to concentrate on at this stage is regional integration. Through regional integration, attempts can be made to level up social, economic and political development in our countries. With successful regional integration, possibilities for federal states at this level can be explored and wherever possible effected. When this is achieved, then we can move to the integration of regions. We say this because it is not only our countries that are at different levels of socio-economic and political development, but our regions too. When development among the regions of our continent has been leveled, the question of the United States of Africa may become much easier to deal with.
We appreciate the impatience of some of our leaders on this question because the United States of Africa has remained a constant theme for a very long time, from the earliest days of Pan-Africanism. And for them, the failure of our post-colonial states is the root cause of the marginalisation and upsurge in violence that is plunging the whole swathes of Africa into chaos. They also think the failure is the source of the dramatic rise in poverty that now threatens the survival of the great majority of our people. Alpha Oumar Konare, head of the African Union, says “the battle for the United States of Africa is the only one worth fighting for our generation - the only one that can provide the answers to the thousand-and-one problems faced by the populations of Africa”. He has a point, but there is a journey we have to travel to reach that solution - the United States of Africa. It won’t be achieved in the instant coffee style. It will require step-by-step, stage-by-stage measures. We will need to build it by laying one brick after another until the whole structure is completed. Shortcuts won’t do. This is not something that will be achieved by simple resolutions even if they are passed unanimously. An effective United States of Africa will not be borne out of declarations by our leaders; it can only come as a result of consistent and systematic efforts designed to produce a multinational state after certain prerequisites are met.
Running big and diverse states requires a lot of effort, skill and organisation. Looking at the way we are running our individual countries, we don’t believe we have attained levels needed for us to run a complex multinational state of Africa. Let’s deal with the first things first: the running of our villages, our towns, and our individual countries needs to be improved and perfected; the unity of our people in our individual countries needs to be strengthened and consolidated; the relationships and cooperation among our neighbouring states needs to be solidified and arranged in such a way as to produce effective, efficient and orderly regional integration. In this way, we can move towards the goal of a United States of Africa in a sure or confident manner. Without this, the idea of the United States of Africa will remain nothing but a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.
What we would urge our leaders meeting in Accra, Ghana, is to explore ways of accelerating regional integration, of helping ECOWAS, SADC, COMESA and other regional arrangements to be consolidated. This will produce much more useful work and results and help us to attain our goal of a United States of Africa much faster and in a sure way. Without this, we don’t think - although there is a growing number of African leaders who share the dream of a United States of Africa - anyone will be able to turn this dream into reality.
The dream of a United States of Africa is a sweet and good one. But it is just a dream and will remain just a dream if we don’t take the right steps and follow correct processes to turn it into a reality. This is not to say dreams are bad. After all, today’s reality were yesterday’s dreams. And today’s dreams will be tomorrow’s reality. We have to continue dreaming for a more united, more strong and prosperous Africa. A United States of Africa is not a wild dream; it is a dream that can be attained if we do everything that needs to be done to achieve it.