The dream of a united African continent under one government, common citizenship and common destiny has escaped the leadership in Africa. On the 12th of February 2009 Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade said that "The United States of Africa will be proclaimed in 2017, to allow for the time needed to work out the different African institutions." Source: Pan-African News Agency, 12th of February 2009.
Despite the fact that sceptics doubt Africa's ability to achieve unity because of the differences in language, religion, literacy levels, political systems, infrastructural gaps, geographical diversity and culture, these challenges can be solved.
Unity in Africa is the only option we have if we want to attain peace, stability and economic development. Disunity has enabled Europe to exploit our continent for centuries. We cannot act together to bring peace to Somalia, Sudan and DR. Congo because some of our leaders with the connivance of foreign defence companies and contractors are benefiting from those conflicts. If Africa is going to make it, then the leaders must act together as one, eschew their personal interests and put the needs of the continent first. In an interview about Africa’s unity, Julius Nyerere said:
"Kwame Nkrumah and I met in 1963 and discussed African Unity. We differed on how to achieve a United States of Africa. But we both agreed on a United States of Africa as necessary... After independence the wider African community became clear to me. I was concerned about education; the work of Booker T. Washington resonated with me. There were skills we needed and black people outside Africa had them. I gave our US Ambassador the specific job of recruiting skilled Africans from the US Diaspora. A few came. Some stayed; others left. We should try to revive it. We should look to our brothers and sisters in the West. We should build the broader Pan-Africanism. There is still the room – and the need" — Julius Nyerere interviewed by Ikaweba Bunting, The Heart of Africa, New Internationalist Magazine, Issue 309, January-February 1999.
Some African leaders are dragging their feet and drowning the Africa Union initiative. They are not asking the implication of Europe’s unity to Africa. Europe is strategising for the next phase of global politics which will centre on who controls what vital resources and in which area. This underscores why US is seeking military bases in Africa. How will a small country like Gabon respond if her oil becomes a target of US occupation? Does Equatorial Guinea have the military capability to withstand an all out invasion by Europe if they decide to take her resources by force as America has done in Iraq?
The shortage of resources in Europe and America and its abundance in Africa means Africa is going to be a battleground for these countries for the control of the resources. US has projected that by the end the next decade, 85% of its oil needs must come from Africa. China too wants Africa's oil. India wants it and the EU is not staying idle either. How is the US going to ensure that the 85% target is met? How do we ensure that Western countries will not exploit our weak and insignificant countries for their own advantage?
Developed countries’ scramble for Africa may mean wars; supporting dictators; coups in resource rich countries; civil wars; assassinations; blackmail and arm twisting. What are we going to do if we are not united? A weakened, fragmented and disunited Africa will make it easier for Africa’s resources to be exploited and looted as is currently going on in Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DR Congo and Angola.
Fearful of what Africa could achieve if united, Europe under the leadership of France is proposing the ´Mediterranean Union,’ an association that encompasses all nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea including the five north African countries. This ‘divide and rule’ move is largely seen as an attempt by Europeans to weaken Africa’s effort to unite.
"The Mediterranean Union project is also rife with hidden agendas, including the promotion of French national interests, while ignoring some of the biggest dangers in the former European colonies in West Asia and Africa… France’s real motive, though, is to establish a French southern sphere of influence to counter Germany’s dominant position in central and Eastern Europe".--www.livemint.com, Fri, 1 Aug 2008.
The hidden agenda of the Mediterranean Union project was rightly noted by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal: "But of course there are other obvious goals behind the Union for the Mediterranean initiative like Algeria's oil and gas and Libyan oil.” The same hidden agenda surrounds America's Africom. It can never be about any other thing other than exploiting Africa and keeping it at the bottom of the world development ladder.
We must fight these divide and rule policies. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia can never be called Europe and will never be accepted as such by Europeans no matter what French president Nicolas Sarkozy says. The earlier the leaders in North Africa realise it the better. President Wade was right when he said: "We cannot be kept into a limited space by African leaders who are holding on to petty little states." It is only by uniting and integrating our economies that we can stand on our feet and be recognized as people.
Unity will end the wars that ravage many parts of the continent and enable us pool resources together to tackle the continent’s challenges. Unity will end the disputes between Nigeria and Cameroon regarding the ownership of the Bakasi Peninsula; the tension between Kenya and Uganda over the Migingo Island in Lake Victoria; the Yumbe border dispute between Uganda and Sudan and the Katuna and Mutukula border area dispute between Rwanda and Tanzania. There will be no border disputes between Morocco, Algeria and Western Sahara. Unity will make it unnecessary for Uganda and Rwanda to cross several times into DR. Congo to take resources for the development of their countries. Unity will end the border dispute between Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia and enable us to speak with one voice when dealing with Europe, America, China, Russia and India.
Africa must stop thinking in terms of Anglophone, Francophone, Arab, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese or Mediterranean. We must not think as Muslims or Christians. These divisions only serve foreign interests. If we do not unite against the external forces bent on seeing us weak and fragmented, we have ourselves to blame. The people of Southern Sudan, Northern Sudan, and Darfur must see themselves as Africans: not as Southerners, Northerners or Darfurians. There is no Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa or Ghana but Africa. If we think as Africans and work together, we can accomplish a lot for our peoples.
The European Union worked because Germany, France, Britain and the political leadership made huge sacrifices. Africa must make economic and political sacrifices to realise unity.
At the United Nations, there are more countries from Africa than from Europe and North America combined yet we do not have any say on what goes on in there because we are not united. China makes a lot of impact at the United Nations than all the over fifty countries from Africa. If we want to change this unfavourable balance of power, we have no option but to unite.
By Lord Aikins Adusei,
Political Activist and Anti-Corruption campaigner.