Tanzania’s confiscation and auctioning of 1, 300 heads of cattle belonging to Kenyan Maasai and burning of 6, 400 chicks from Kenya along the Kenya-Tanzania Namanga border is a stark reminder that Africa is still colonised.
Kenya was forced to summon Tanzania’s High Commissioner in the country Dr. Pindi Chana to register the country’s discomfort. Foreign Affairs Political and Diplomatic Secretary Tom Amolo was quoted as saying “Kenya-Tanzania relations are longstanding, rich and complex and should not be jeopardised by a hardening of positions over minor issues that can be easily resolved through candid and open dialogue.”
Organically, before the criminal Berlin Conference 1884, Kenya and Tanzania were united entities. People along what is today Namanga border, inter alia, used to operate freely and amicably without any disturbance, mistrust and infringement on their natural freedom of movement and cooperation. This is why Maasai on both sides of the border still regard themselves as one country of Masailand not to mention, the Swahili on Lunga lunga-Horohoro border.
Most African countries are still furthering, internalising and reinforcing colonialism by maintaining colonial divisions under the Peace of Westphalia 1648 which ushered in modern-time colonial sovereignty. The likes of Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya) and Kwame Nkrumah tried to change this narrative by advocating for a united Africa. East Africa was not left behind in the unity bid by giving birth to the East African Community (EAC I 1967-1977).
The EAC and Africa must shake off colonial hangover and embark on true reunification of the region as follows:
First, reunifying the region means returning back to its natural formula which gave it and Africa the edge and clout of living without necessarily depending on handouts from rich countries as it currently is after being colonised in the 18th Century; thereby ushering in dependency, exploitation and imperialism.
Second, practical reunification of the region will create many economic, political and social opportunities such as interdependence, interconnectedness and above all, unity as a tool for strength. We inevitably and out of necessity need each other even if we don't like each other.
Third, the reunification of the region will enable it and Africa in general to assert its power globally not to mention increasing security and good use of resources. A reunited EAC and Africa won’t have the many do-nothing and despotic presidents that are responsible for exploiting Africa as black colonisers or the agents of colonialism.
Fourth, Namanga’s shame testifies to the fact that African countries don’t do business among themselves compared to how they do it with non-African countries. Thanks to neocolonialism, many African countries are at home with doing business with foreigners but shy away from their neighbours. Again, as the Swahili sages put it, You can choose a friend but not a neighbour. This means that our interconnectedness is organic and inevitable; whether we like it or not.
Fifth, the reunification of the region, and later, Africa will increase production as a motivation by which Africa will grow economically due to the fact that, instead of importing goods from afar, Africa will have an internal supply of some goods it imports from abroad. So, too, it’ll cut the cost of running business and production not to mention environmental degradation from the machinery used to transport goods. I wonder, for example, why some African countries like Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Mauritania are importing onions from the EU. This is shameful.
Why should Africa be a food importer while it used to feed itself before colonialism was introduced? The fact that the continent was able to produce healthy persons who were taken to the Americas as slaves is a demonstration that the continent had healthy and well-fed people. Africa must reunite and reclaim its lost glory.
By Nkwazi Mhango