Why the United States of Africa is a Mirage

Published on 5th January 2009

In my previous written article titled Transformative Leadership Deficiency: Africa’s Major Obstacle that was published in The African Executive magazine issue 191, I said that what has always failed (and is still failing) Africa is lack of transformative leadership across the continent. I have since then been receiving responses all over the world with majority of the readers agreeing with me. 

Those who are keenly following political events in Africa will agree that the divide and rule system that was used by the colonialists in Africa to effectively weaken and control Africans is still entrenched in African leadership. African leaders are using this system to satisfy their personal ambitions. They have gone further and used  institutions such as the parliament, judiciary, army and police among others to extend their rule. Some have changed the constitutions in their countries through dubious means like bribing and intimidating the members of parliament to vote in their favor. 

In countries like Ghana, Kenya, Angola and Uganda, elections have been characterized by malpractices like bribing of voters, intimidation of voters by the state security agents, stuffing of ballot boxes and arresting of political opposition activists among others. Most of these electoral malpractices are carried out by the government in power. 

African leaders ought to realize that the divide and rule system was not introduced in Africa in good faith. Whereas it benefited the colonialists, in Africa, it created more confusion and division that has lasted for ages. Todate, it is difficult to unite African countries into one strong regional country in the name of the united states of Africa. Integrating African countries into one strong regional country in the name of the united states of Africa is like attempting to make the camel to pass through the eye of a needle. 

Even in the African Union, member countries are deeply divided to the extent that they cannot come up with a common position. In the Zimbabwe crisis for example, some countries support President Mugabe while others like Botswana want him removed from power. The African Union is divided on how to deal with wars in Somalia, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo, alongside other issues like trade and movement of factors of production.   

This difficulty can further be explained by the factors below:

Border conflicts: Many of the African countries are currently embroiled in border conflicts. Ethiopia has not resolved her border conflict with Eritrea; Sudan with Chad; and Nigeria with Cameroon among others. It is thus difficult for those countries to be united. The border conflicts have often attracted other African countries to support either country, further complicating the situation. 

Civil wars: Many African countries are currently experiencing civil wars. For instance, Sudan in the Darfur region; Nigeria in the Niger Delta region; Somalia and the Democratic republic of Congo. The civil wars draw other African countries in support of either side. It is thus difficult to convince these countries to be united. 

Ideological differences: Some African countries are capitalist aligned while others are communist aligned. The spirit of non-aligned movernment in Africa has since died off. This places African countries in the begging position as they pursue aspirations of the masters they are aligned to.  

Multi-partysm: The political party in Africa has greatly divided the people of Africa than uniting them. People in either parties view their political competitors as enemies. Worse still, one African country sponsors and supports a certain political party in another country. This creates divisions among the African countries. 

Colonial legacy: African countries were colonized by different colonial masters and they still depend on them for their survival. They still categorize themselves as Commonwealth, Anglo-phone and Franco-phone countries. This colonial attachment is a stumbling block to the attaining of the total African unity and in uniting African countries in form of united states of Africa. 

Selfish interests: Some African leaders think that by belonging to one single regional government, they will loose their power, prestige and control. This is especially so to those who have stayed in power for too long. These kind of leaders have indirectly been against the idea of the united states of Africa preferring to remain presidents in their individual countries. 

In the final analysis, if these differences are not ironed out, integrating African countries into one strong regional country in the name of the united states of Africa will remain a dream.                         

By Hategeka Moses

Hategeka  [email protected]  is a  Good Governance activist

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