January 30, 2012
It is another season for the African Union. Once again, heads of state have trooped to Addis Ababa to talk shop. In the backdrop have been street riots in Dakar against Abdulahi Wade of Senegal for bulldozzing the courts to give him a third unconstitutional term.
The riots in Senegal may not be potent enough or even stop Wade from being reelected. However, they ominiously remind us of Tahir Square, Libyan streets or Tunisian riots just the other day. More importantly, they remind us of the events in Damascus currently showing on a television screen near you.
Characteristic of the the AU, Wade’s behaviour is not on the cards for discussion just like all other undemocratic heads of state and governments around the table. The behaviour of individual statesmen is never for discussion unless one of them does a Gbagbo or finds himself in upleasant situations as Gaddafi did before his eventual elimination.
Also of utmost interest to the AU is the continuous targeting of Africa by the International Criminal Court at the prompting of the rich super powers bent on recolonising Africa. It is the reason Omar El Bashir is allowed to roam the continent unfettered despite the arrest want hanging over his head. To the AU , massacre of Darfurians by Bashir’s militias counts for nothing.
Year in year out, we keep on yapping about the injustices againstus by the West. We never lose an opportunity to condemn their unsolicited prefecting of the continent. We are forever tired of donor funds with strings attached. Yet when you come to think about it, our governors make the least effort in being self sufficient. All the 54 African states have a phobia trading with each other. Our leaders have made our movement across the continent a nightmare. A single currency or a single language will always remain a pipe dream. We are just too happy to sign bilateral trade agreements with Britain, France, Japan, China or India but loathe signing the same agreements with our next door neighbours.
This week,the heads of state fell over each other in celebrating a new 20 storey AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. The building cost somebody $ 200 million and who picked the tab? None of the AU states contributed a penny. Yet they were just too happy to boast that it was not built by the Americans or Frenchmen. The new kid on the block- China picked the tab. I understand that all materials that went into it including furniture, fittings, curtains, tiles and even nails were imported from China.
Considering that this building took almost a decade to complete, couldn’t the 54 heads of state have contributed just $ 4 million each over the ten year period to build the damn building? How much money do the same heads of state waste every six months in their merry-go-round in all capitals of the continent? Couldn’t Gaddafi have single handedly contributed $200 million from his oil money when he was still in charge?
Our leaders must be reminded that there is no free lunch anywhere in this world. What appears attractive and free sometimes ends up being more expensive. It is wrong to imagine that China is not giving Africa a bait. Two billion Chinese will sooner or later offload some 200 million Chinese to Africa under the pretext of bilateral investment.
When they do arrive, they will start retail businesses of all kinds, form their colonies in every city and take over this continent. A few years ago Angola invited them to drill oil in that country. Today a section of Lwanda is a no go area for Angolans. They have acquired that part of the city.
Believe it or not the same Chinese are in Sudan, Zimbabwe and were recently in Libya in their droves. If the British and the French forcefully colonized us and the Portuguese forcibly took us to the Americas as slaves, our second colonization is today by invitation. We are slowly being recolonized in broad day light and we are drinking champaign to it too.
The first time an African state in Sub Saharan Africa gained independence was 55 years. Ghana it was and Kwame Nkurumah dreamt of a United States of Africa. Fifty five years later, long after Nkurumah and his generation passed on, we are still gropping in the dark looking for new colonisers.
Today we have three major regional economic blocks. For a decade we have described them as building blocks upon which we would build our real African Union . However, the dream keeps eluding us. If just five East African states cannot operationalize the Customs Union and the Common Market despite protocols being in place, how can the 54 states ever come together as one economic block?
If Africa has to achieve ecomonic independence it must be ready to sacrifice. China did just that and now it is super power. It never went to the doorsteps of America, Britain or France begging for aid. It worked for it and made.