Wednesday, March 4, 2009



Tuesday, March 3 2009

Is it not ironic that the man who today pushes hardest for African federation is Libya’s strongman Muammar Gaddafi, a renegade who came to power through the barrel of a gun, and is openly opposed to Western democracy?

Supposing he became the first president of Africa, would he not use firing squads to butcher the corrupt and thieving African heads of state?

These are some of the fears onto which Africa’s reactionary statesmen tether their opposition to integration. But we want to tell those leaders who hedge when continental integration is discussed that Col Gaddafi is not the originator of integration; that he is simply the medium of our passion for pan-African unity.

BEFORE INDEPENDENCE AND SOON after it, Africa’s place in the world had always preoccupied big minds. Being weak, how would African states relate to the super powers? Should each attach itself to a super power for guidance, or should the weak states bundle together in a union to protect their interests?

What was the best way to develop the continent’s vast natural resources? Such questions were being raised when Col Gaddafi was still a baby.

As early as 1945, many Third World leaders in Asia and Africa had rejected a world divided into two, a world in which only the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) counted, and everybody else had to declare their attachment to one.

Perhaps the landmark statement was when Kwame Nkrumah addressed the founding conference of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 24, 1963: “I bring the hopes and fraternal greetings of the people of Ghana. Our objective is African Union now. There’s no time to waste...”

Nkrumah feared that if Africa did not integrate, the former colonial powers would continue to bamboozle them, as the French were doing in West Africa.

He talked to his listeners very patiently and explained to them the type and structure of the Africa he had in mind.

He went on, after some interruption by Julius Nyerere. “What else are we looking for in Africa? We meet today not as Ghanaians, Egyptians, Algerians, Ethiopians, Congolese, Somalis or Nigerians, but as Africans... And as Africans we must resolve to remain here until we have agreed on the basic principles of a new compact of unity which guarantees our future.”

His fellow heads of state disagreed, in the same way as Gaddafi’s continental agenda was recently rejected in Addis Ababa. The excuses given were trivial.

The greedy and dictatorial heads of state simply would not let go of their patches, on which they sit as they economically bleed their territories for themselves.

And yet the problems of fragmentation remain. Our opinions in world fora are still dictated by our former colonisers.

We remain incapable of solving our domestic and regional rebellions — unless a dominant world power chips in. We are incapable of mobilising funds for industrial and infrastructural development. We are incapable of balancing our budgets, and we cannot even influence international terms of trade.

And when famine strikes we dolefully plead for international assistance to bail us from our carelessness.

Despite the obvious problems, which we can only solve as an integrated continent, with the muscle to negotiate, some of our leaders remain hypocritically unconvinced.

What Africa needs is an Otto von Bismarck type of leader, who can topple the many authoritarian regimes in Africa, and pave the way for a progressive, integrated and beneficial continent.

HAVING A COMMON GOVERNMENT does not mean we dismantle existing states. They will retain most of their functions, but operate under a continental government with the dockets of foreign affairs, defence and internal security, foreign trade and internal commerce.