Whenever I am talking about Africa, I am always tempted to bring out four factors as a way of introduction. First of all, Africa is the origin of Man. Four and a half million years ago, man evolved from the lower primates in the grass-lands of East Africa. This original man was known as homo-sapien sapien. Man did not leave Africa to populate other continents until about 100,000 years ago. Secondly, Africa was the pioneer of civilization with the Egyptian civilization being among the first ones, between 3000BC and 3500BC. This is a whole 5,500 years ago. The Greek civilization or the Roman civilisation were much later. Thirdly, Africa succoured all the modern religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. When the Jews were about to starve to death, they fled to Egypt and, eventually, linked up with their brother, Joseph, whom they had sold into slavery. This is in the Book of Genesis: Chapter 37:28 and it was around 1900BC. When Herod was hunting for baby Jesus to kill him, his parents hid him in Egypt. This is in the Book of Mathew: Chapter 2: Verse 3. When Mohammad was in trouble with his Arabs, in the year 615 AD, he fled to Ethiopia. All these were firsts for Africa. Fourthly, however, for the last 500 years, Africa has encountered calamity after calamity in the forms of: slave-trade, colonialism, genocide, neo-colonialism, bad governance, under-development and marginalization in the global community.
I have given my views repeatedly on how this reversal of roles came about ─ how the first became the last and for so long. The most recent, being the speech I gave on the Mzee Mandela Day in Uganda, at Makerere University.
The long and short of Africa’s afflictions in the last 500 years is that, by a combination of mainly endogenous but also some exogenous factors, the whole of Africa had been conquered by 1900, except for Ethiopia. Being conquered by foreign rapacious forces was very risky. Others who were conquered were exterminated. The Indians of the Americas and the Aborigines of Australia perished and their lands were taken over by new peoples. Africans, however, on account of stronger genes and a developed civilisation, were able to survive the nightmare of the last 500 years.
When some of our leaders were fighting against colonialism, we had 5 strategic goals. These were: to regain our independence; to achieve democracy for the first time since under the kings and colonialism, we never had democracy; to work for the prosperity of our people for the first time since they had missed the Industrial Revolution that emancipated other peoples from poverty through market integration; to, through political integration, end the fragmentation of Africa, the original sin that had caused our enslavement in the first place, so as to insure the future of Africans as a free and respected people; and to protect and develop our heritage and identity as African people so as to avoid the phenomenon of becoming Black Europeans such as the assimilados in the Portuguese Colonies, “evolae” in the French colonies, etc.
By 1994, the last of the occupied territories, South Africa, got its freedom, thereby concluding the process of getting “independence.” Attaining democratic governance took much longer; but, today, almost all the African countries conduct regular elections except, where there are wars or political stalemate such as Congo-Kinshasa.
On the third strategic goal, prosperity, our leaders, having wasted 23 years counting from the time of Ghana’s Independence in 1957, eventually, realized the importance of economic integration to stimulate the growth of the economy. How can the enterprises grow, if there are no enough consumers (buyers) of goods and services? China and India are very big countries, each with a population of 1.3 billion people. Their rates of growth were modest until they opened up their economies, China in 1978 and India in 1991. The GDP of China in 1978 was US$218.50 billion. It is now US$11,202 billion. India’s GDP in 1978, before opening up, was US$202 billion. It is now US$ 11,779 billion. The exports of China in 1978 were worth US$ 6.813 billion. They are now US$ 2,199 billion. Those of India were US$ 8.644 billion in 1978. They are now US$ 434.06 billion. Since 1978, China has created an additional 113.2 million jobs by the combined action of accessing bigger markets abroad, attracting foreign investments and internal capital accumulation. Two issues are brought out here. First, the respective big internal markets of China and India were not big enough to cause the big surge in their economies. Secondly, however, their respective big economies were attractive enough, on account of size, to cause the huge inflow of FDIs and to enable reciprocal market access arrangements with the big markets of the USA, EU, etc.
The Banyankore say: “Ija turye kumwe, biri aine ekyakurebireho” ─ the “one who invites you for dinner, expects something in return from you.” It was, therefore, commendable that our leaders, in the year 1980 conceived the idea of the Lagos Action Plan, which resulted in the birth of the Regional Economic Communities (the RECs) of: COMESA, ECOWAS, etc. After realizing political independence in most African countries by the late 1970s, the continent began preparing for another battle — economic emancipation. This led to the adoption of the Lagos Plan of Action by Heads of State and Government who met in Nigeria in July 1980. The Lagos Plan of Action was developed as the continent’s blueprint through which Africa could, based on the principle of collective self-reliance, achieve rapid economic and social development. Through this blueprint, Africa has continued efforts to overcome the persistent problems of underdevelopment.
If more attention was paid to these Regional Economic Blocs, they would be an instrument of our emancipation from poverty. Using Uganda’s experience, I will cite two examples. First, Uganda’s production of milk in 1986 was 200 million litres per annum. We put in modest efforts of promoting milk production. Our production is now 2.2 billion litres per annum. Yet, our consumption is still only 800 million litres of milk per annum. If it was not for the regional market, the milk industry in Uganda would either have collapsed or it would have suffered from stunted growth. The surplus of 1.4 billion litres is bought by the EAC or exported beyond. Our maize production is at 4 million tonnes. Our consumption, however, is only one million tonnes because we have other foods in Uganda ─ bananas, cassava, irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, millet, etc.
It is the regional market that supports the maize industry; and, for a long time, Uganda has supported the economy of Kenya. Each year, Uganda buys from Kenya goods worth US$ 527.21 million. Apart from our neighbours supporting our prosperity by buying from us, when EAC negotiates as a Bloc with third Parties, our EAC market of 170 million people, has a bigger clout than Uganda’s 40 million people. People buying our products give us money; support us in creating jobs for our youth; support our raw-material producers since the exporting factories buy those inputs; expand our tax base for the State, thereby enabling the country to fund education, health, roads, the railways, water, defence, etc.; consume more of our utilities (electricity, water, ICT, etc.); help us to produce goods and services for exports and imports- substitution; and promote technology transfer.
There is also the ideological element. The reactionaries in Africa have caused a lot of chaos by emphasizing and misusing identity of religion and ethnicity. This is pseudo-ideology. I like to use the example of my cattle-keeping nationality group, the Banyankore. These people are cattle keepers; but they also grow bananas, coffee, tea, etc. Since they engage in similar economic activities, they do not easily buy from one another. Left by themselves, they would wallow in poverty, their wealth and natural resources notwithstanding. It is the other Ugandans, who produce different products or services, that buy their products and support their prosperity. That is why, therefore, our Party insists on the ideology of patriotism and anti-sectarianism within Uganda. We regard the groups that push the politics of identity as enemies of the prosperity of Ugandans. Since, however, the internal market of Uganda is not enough to support our prosperity, we tell our people that our future lies in an integrated East African and African markets.
Therefore, our ideology goes beyond patriotism to Pan-Africanism. This ideology of Patriotism within Uganda and Pan-Africanism in Africa is neither emotional nor dogmatic. It is, among other things, based on cold rationality. How can we ensure the prosperity of families, companies, producers and countries of Africa? The other is: “Through economic integration.” Why? The answer: “Because economic integration creates a bigger market, more opportunities.”
On the ideological level in the World, we also always have to deal with the issue of what is more important. Is it the human resource or the natural resources? Both are, of course, important. However, on balance the human resource is more important than just the natural resources. Why? It is on account of the fact that human resource is creative, conscious and also consumes goods and services while the natural resources are inert unless they are worked on by the very human resource. Remember our secondary school economics that informed us of the four factors of production: land (natural resources), labour (the human resource), capital (a result of labour working on land) and entrepreneurship (the human resource).
Therefore, in the old economics, two and a half of the factors of production were human factors out of the total of 4. This would be 62.5%. I have, however, been informed that recently economists have added a fifth factor, knowledge. This makes the human resource take 72.5% of the five factors of production. Do we need live examples of this? Look at Japan – no minerals, no oil, no agriculture. However, on account of the human resource, Japan has been the second richest country in the World until recently when it was over-taken by China. South Korea is another example. China has shown us the example of the importance of the numbers and the quality of the numbers. China now is the second richest country in the World after the USA and it will overtake the USA by the year 2030 if factors remain the same. Africans are lucky, they have both – the human resource and the natural resources. Through ideological mistakes, however, they, sometimes, mismanage both. They mismanage the human resource by emphasizing identity to the detriment of interest and they mismanage the natural resources through corruption and myopic policies.
The fourth strategic goal, is political integration. As I have pointed out in my other writings, it is the political fragmentation of Africa that enabled the Europeans to colonize us. I do not accept the explanation of technology as having been the main cause of the defeat of our ancestors. China, Japan and Ethiopia were technologically inferior to the West, when they came into contact. China, however, was too big to swallow not for lack of trying but on account of size and social cohesion. They ended up only detaching Hong-Kong and Macao. Japan was too organized to capitulate to the imperialists and she soon became a rival of the West. Ethiopia was helped by size and terrain. It defeated the Italians in 1896 at the battle of Adua. When the Europeans conquered us, even those foreigners saw that they could not efficiently exploit us unless they carried out some degree of political rationalization. The kingdoms, chiefdoms and segmentary society units were too many to make economic sense. Hence, the 53 colonies that are now “independent” countries. Uganda, certainly, is more beneficial to my family, my business, my security than the “Republic” of Ankole (my tribal unit). Why, then, don’t the African elite see that the Federation of East Africa is even better?
It creates better opportunities for the Banyakore producers of goods and services ─ bigger market, EAC can better negotiate for even bigger third party markets, has a wider natural and human resource base, greater strategic depth for defence, etc. Therefore, the strategic goal of political integration is the actual insurance for our survival as a free people or even survival as a people at all. East Africa can organize our defence better than Uganda.
The African countries are now very vulnerable. The Americans are talking of “four dimensional superiority.” “Superiority on land, in the air, at sea and in space.” Where does that leave the African countries and people? How can we only survive as free people, if survive at all, only with the permission of others? Isn’t the present African elite making the same mistake as the African chiefs who failed to unite our people for centuries as the Europeans were slowly building strength and enabled them to swallow the whole of Africa?
The Portuguese sailor, known as Pedro da Cintra, got to Sierra Leone in 1462. Nigeria was not colonized until the year 1901. Meanwhile, slave trade started in the year 1650 on the West African Coast. Why couldn’t these chiefs see this danger coming and get together to protect ourselves? Instead, many chiefs were being used to fight one another, capture their fellow Africans from other tribes and sell them into slavery.
Therefore, the present generation of the African elite need to address what our ancestors did not address, the colonialists only partially addressed and the post-independence leaders did not address except for Mwalimu Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Karume, who joined Tanganyika and Zanzibar to create Tanzania.
Economic development per se is not enough. As I said in my other writings, during the 2nd World War, the first victims of aggression were the highly developed countries of Holland, Belgium, Denmark and even France. It was the mighty Soviet Union, although not yet that developed at that time, that came to the rescue of Europe, with the USA joining the war in Europe in 1944.
South Korea is a highly developed country. Strategically, however, it stands under the umbrella of the USA. Under whose umbrella does Africa, a continent of 53 weak states, stand? Israel is today a highly developed country in terms of technology. However, in order to ward off hostile powers in the region such as Iran, Israel could not do much on its own without the USA. Therefore, technology or not, size matters ultimately. Aware of this, under, initially, the leadership of our independence leaders such as Mwalimu Nyerere, Tom Mboya, Grace Ibingira, Joe Murumbi, Oscar Kambona and others, the three East African Countries of Uganda, Tanganyika and Kenya aimed at a political federation of our region. In the end, Tanganyika and Zanzibar, in 1964, were the only ones that merged to form the Union of Tanzania which has created greater opportunities for the people of the two countries for now half a century plus. On 30th November, 1999, all the three original countries formed a new treaty for EAC cooperation. The treaty was not only about the economic cooperation. It, ultimately, aims at a political federation of the East African Countries. Article 5.2 of the treaty, indeed, provides as follows: “The partner states undertake to establish among themselves and in accordance with provisions of this treaty Customs Union, a common market, subsequently Monetary Union and, ultimately, Political Federation.”
The EAC has now expanded to six countries: the original three plus Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Somalia has also applied to join. I have been informed by EAC Secretariat that all the present six have now agreed to, initially, form a confederation. The present six countries have a combined population of 170 million people with a land area of 1 million square miles, the size of India. By 2050, this combined population will be 420 million. Such a country, given its human and natural resources base, would be a strategic anchor for the sovereignty of Africa, if it is well run. Africa desperately needs such a strategic anchor. Otherwise, the future of the black people remains bleak. Such a union is feasible, not least, because of the de-tribalized Swahili dialect that is already a lingua franca for much of the area. Apart from addressing the issues of economic prosperity through economic integration and strategic security through political integration, such a union would end the irrationality and inconvenience of cutting the African Sea Board (the Coast) from the hinterland (score of land locked Countries) and unify the management of cross-boarder natural resources such as Lakes, Rivers, Mountains, Minerals e.t.c. The political integration would enable us to build a powerful Defense Forces with capable land, air, sea and space forces, capable of defending Africa against all and sundry.
As of today, the EAC area is fairly peaceful except for Burundi and South Sudan. The factors destabilizing the two countries are perceived lingering ideology of identity (mainly tribes) and other curable political disagreements. In the other countries, there is a history of revolutionary ideology of patriotism and Pan-Africanism that has enabled them build strong and cohesive armies as well as other institutions. Tanzania led us in this, historically. These armies are able to maintain peace and stability in the respective countries. Those East African Armies have also played useful roles in the decolonization of Southern Africa (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and South Africa) by, on the orders of their Governments, supporting the anti-colonial liberation movements.
They have played decisive roles in the defeat of Idi Amin, the ending of genocide in Rwanda as well as important contributions to the security situations in Congo and South Sudan. They have played the decisive role of stabilizing Somalia. Therefore, East Africa is an important area of stability, economic growth and potential for political integration. In order to conclude on this point, I need to re-iterate that, some of us have refused to give up on this point. On my personal side, it is now 53 years in which I have been a disciple of Mwalimu Nyerere, the late leader of Tanzania. I believe that the future of Africans, as free people, depends a lot on this issue. Could other areas of Africa look at this? Why not? I did not believe in the federation of the whole of Africa that the late Muammar Gaddaffi sought because the whole continent does not have sufficient compatibilities. However, regional federations should be looked at. Having suffered for 500 years, the African people are entitled to a strong shield to insure their future.
The fifth strategic goal of the anti-colonialism movement was to guarantee the survival of our heritage and identity. Weakness in economy, defence and politics leads to self-doubt and many elements in the concerned community start trying to be other people. That is how we get Black-Europeans. Many of the African languages are very rich, the African foods are very nutritious, African medicine, African customs (exogamous) e.t.c are very rich. They must be preserved and developed. That is why I had to write the Thesaraus of the Runyankore dialect. The inferiority complex of Africans always trying to be somebody else, must stop.
May I end by recapitulating the five strategic goals of the anti- colonial movement. They were: Independence, democracy, prosperity through economic integration, strategic security through political integration and preserving our identity and heritage. I call upon the elite and the youth to audit what has been achieved and why. What has not been achieved must be put back on the table and be discussed. We should not be like the people described by the Anglican Prayer Books on page 4 (General Confession). It says: “They left undone what they ought to have done and did what they ought not to have done and there, is no truth in them.”
By Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of Uganda.