African Union: Time to Create a Galvanizing Idea for Africa

Published on 28th January 2014

If the critical voices that are being raised ahead of the summit by African leaders this week in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) are anything to go by, African heads of state have a herculean task to convince their electorate that they are capable of delivering the African Dream. Tedros Adhanom (Ethiopia's Foreign Minister) argues that it is ironic to talk about the African renaissance when humanitarian tragedies are unfolding in Africa. Peter J. Pham, (Director, Africa Centre at the Atlantic Council) states that the AU's failure to walk the talk on matters such as an African standby force as well as its slow response to crises points to a deeper institutional weakness. Jason Mosley of Britain's Chatham House think-tank argues that Africa's preoccupation with the rhetoric of a "rising continent" has glossed over major problems on the continent.

The AU has the ambition to create 'a united and integrated Africa; an Africa imbued with justice and peace; an Africa driven by its own citizens; an interdependent and robust Africa determined to map for itself an ambitious strategy; an Africa underpinned by political, economic, social and cultural integration; and an Africa composed of democratic states respectful of human rights and keen to build equitable societies.

These ideals have so far eluded the continent. Apart from the raft of issues that the AU intends to discuss this week on agriculture, the International Criminal Court and prevailing conflicts, it is time the AU invested in evolving a galvanizing philosophy for Africa. The continental body should initiate debate across its member states on which idea needs to drive continental aspirations and values. Can Ubuntu philosophy be a good start?

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