Opinion: It’s Time to Create the United States of Africa By Dr. Fathi El-Shihibi 06/12/2010 17:24:00
The convening of the third summit between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) which was hosted by the Leader of the Revolution Muammar al-Qathafi in the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (November 29-30) and focused on exploring ways to increase economic and investment cooperation between the two continents prompted me to revisit the prospect of creating the United States of Africa and how would that create new possibilities and opportunities for the citizens of both entities.
Having become more and more aware that this cherished dream is gradually taking a backseat to more urgent matters in individual countries such as the upcoming referendum in the Sudan scheduled for January of next year on whether Southern Sudan remains part of the country or chooses independence and the intermittent civil war in Somalia, I thought that I should remind everybody that the sooner unity is established the better are the chances to overcome the seemingly daunting problems on the continent.
Furthermore, judging from the international political atmosphere the United States of America, the European Union as well as the United Nation and the rest of the world community will positively receive the creation of this union as a major step to combat and overcome the many problems plaguing the continent including conflict, famine and disease.
As a matter of fact the governments of the United States of American and the Russian Federation as well as China have been signaling their support for the creation of the union through the remarks of their high officials including US President Barak Obama and his Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, President Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation and President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China.
The United States government in a congratulatory note to the president of Malawi Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika on his election as the new chairperson of the African Union, firmly expressed high hopes in continuing and upgrading the country’s partnership with the AU to establish peace throughout the continent and help member states attain and maintain stability and prosperity.
Nowadays when I ponder the future of the African Union and the strong possibility of finally creating the United States of Africa my thoughts hover between the famous words of the English socialist author George Bernard Shaw and the African revolutionary Kwame Nkrumah. Shaw reflecting on humanities’ resilience to transform dreams or visions into reality concludes that “You see things and you say why? But I dream things that never were and say why not? ”
1. Kwame Nkrumah being a visionary who embodies Shaw’s characterization of the dreamer turned visionary, having formed his vision of a pan-African Union and being committed to pursue his vision with vigor and determination, uttered these famous words “Revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought” 2. On another occasion Nkrumah asserts that the path to unity has to be charted by the Africans themselves and in accordance with their own vision not the vision of others “We face neither East nor west; we face forward” 3. The ideas of Nkrumah and like-minded African leaders such as the late President of Egypt Jamal abd al-Nasser, eventually led to the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.
Muammar al-Qathafi, leader of the Libyan revolution and former President of the African Union, asserted his vision as did Nkrumah and continued the march towards unity which culminated in the establishment of the African Union.
Furthermore he, echoing the words of his predecessor“Africa must unite or perish (4), has been leading the way towards the establishment of the final phase in Africa’s pursuit of unity and complete independence by calling for the establishment of the United States of Africa. These efforts towards this cherished and noble destination have encountered and continue to encounter numerous setbacks and hurdles whether internal or external.
On the one hand any moves towards unity have been facing challenges by opposition groups and diverse ideologies especially during the cold war. On the other hand, early on many outside players’ particularly former colonial sates used their economic leverage and their surviving connections inside many African countries to hamper any efforts towards more unity.
Nevertheless, there are many challenges confronting the establishment of such a union be they internal or external albeit being for the most part a mixture of both which can also be solved:
The challenge I consider a priority is that some African governments’ opposition to moves intended to expedite the creation of such a union. It is a known fact that some centers of power in these countries still harbor lingering loyalty to their former colonists mainly England and France due to mutual interests or economic, political or military pressures.
This is the reason that these same heads of states and other power enclaves seem to be uncommitted regarding Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s timely proposal to ease restrictions on travel between African states, lifting or easing of regulations that stand in the way of free trade and the creation of a single currency (the Afro) which is similar to the Euro currency used by members of the European Union.
When it comes to the unwillingness of some African governments or heads of states to push forward with the creation of a union, the solution to that is to advance Colonel al-Qathafi’s proposal to the African people not their governments per say to debate and determine the future of their continent. This move towards popular participation can start by resurrecting the Arusha charter hence (the African charter for popular participation in development and transformation) that was agreed upon by member states meeting in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania, but was hardly implemented since its inception in 1990. Therefore, involving the African people and not only their governments can produce the leverage needed to expedite the moves towards the envisioned union.
The next challenge is that of globalization which provides some Western states with a pretext to enforce economic and political domination. As the saying goes there is strength in unity since a genuine union particularly on the economic level can give the continent leverage not only in world affairs but also the mean to cope with the challenges of globalisation. Having a union could lead to the promotion of the status of African countries from proxy or client states to partners in the world economy.
Despite the lingering effects of colonization in the majority of African states that left them dried of needed resources if not utterly impoverishment, these same countries can with the right planning and cooperation with each other recoup their losses and be in a position not only to withstand the impact of globalization but to influence the policies and standards created by multinational corporations.
Although many of these countries are still reeling from heavy debts and under development which left them vulnerable to the dictates of such multinational and mostly Western financial organizations such as the IMF (the International Monetary Fund), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, they can still overcome such setbacks by creating their own financial institutions along the line of the African Economic Community that was established in Abuja in 1991 but then the plan was hardly put into practice.
The third challenge that stands in the way of African unity is security. The issue of security on the continent is as it stands now moving in two different directions. The first direction is pursued by some African countries that remain suspicious of a continental defence forces and consequently opt to rely on the West for their security.
The West including the United States and in the absence of a reliable and effective AU defense forces have been providing protection by direct military intervention in African hot spots such Somalia or rely on client states or proxy states to do their bidding such as Tanzania’s invasion of Uganda to topple Idi Amin in 1979 or Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia in 2006 that was launched to uproot the insurgency and al-Qaeda sympathisers as part of America’s war on terrorism.
The United States, along with former colonial powers France and England are reshaping post-cold war policies to expand and protect their interests on the continent especially in oil and other African riches or to ward off the expanding influences of China, Iran and the Russian Federation. A prime example of the ambitious resumption of influence by the USA and Its Allies can clearly be seen in the creation of a new central command known as the United States African Command or AFRICOM for short.
The declared mission of this command, which was established during the administration of George W. Bush, is to oversee military operation as well as other duties to augment US security back home and abroad. The command has been operational since the establishment of its main headquarters in a number of willing African allies that still orbit the Western sphere of influence.
The second direction is the one adopted by African countries that highly value the exercise of complete independence in decision-making, movement or action. Thus in order to safeguard the continent there are two complementary courses of action one long term and one short term. The first is to educate and enlighten Africans that achieving a lasting union would mean transcending internal strives and civil wars as well as interstate rivalries and military conflicts.
The second is the establishment of a continental defense force that will safeguard the integrity and independence of member states which will eventually enter into a federation thereby guaranteeing their security and independence. Nowadays African states are to a large degree dependent on the United Nations and Its Security Council for assistance in matters of war and peace.
However, as we have seen in the Darfur situation in the Sudan the UN resolutions are mostly influenced by former colonial states due to the absence of a united African block that promote and protect the integrity of individual African states. A strong African security forces would have stepped in and put an end to the conflict without any need for outside interference.
Here I would like to conclude this modest study of Africa’s Unity and ways to establish the long cherished vision of a United States of Africa by expanding on the saying “Unity is strength” and adding that “Unity is security”, “Unity is self reliance” and “Unity is self sufficiency “no matter how steep the sacrifices are or will be to achieve such a noble undertaking.
About The Author The writer is a professor at the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He contributed this article to The Tripoli Post.
This article has ( 16 ) Comment(s)
Date: 12/07/2010 03:26:35
Comment: The even consider creating the so called United States of Africa without having the political and historical events of African countries is ignorant if not stupidity. First do your research and may be then you can offer your opinion. Why did Ethiopia go to war in Somali in 2006? Obviously you have no clue. Hope you do some read before you start writing your wishful thinking.
Name: Ekuson Debango
Date: 12/11/2010 18:37:27
Comment: DANNY:It is very obvious you know squat about the politics of Africa. You are a typical moron who thinks that Africa is a country. One wonders what orifice people like you shove food. The concept of a United States of Africa is not new. When Kwame Nkrumah suggested that African countries come together and pool their resources together for the common good, he was labeled a communist by the West.wHY DOES THE wEST CONTINUE TO MEDDLE WITH aFRICAN AFAIRS WHILE TALKING DOWN ON AFRICA.Africans should view China as an important partner and strenghten their relationship with this rapidly emerging superwar. Failure to do so will be detrimental to the entire continent.China's appraoch in dealing with Africa is totally devoid of the typical Western arrogance that characterised our realtionship. Enough is enough.
Name: jahangir khan
Date: 18/02/2011 05:55:36
Comment: the idea of united state of Africa is very relevent for globalizing the peoples for wellfare of the popular masses and it is real initiative to be united peoples in opposition of so called developed countries.Brother Qaddafi is really a brother of world peoples for proposing the idea of united state of Africa.I, M Jahangir khan also suport the idea and i have written a book of 200 pages name"world umma: the idea of Brother Qaddafi for united state of Africa"
Name: jahangir khan
Date: 18/02/2011 06:49:03
Comment: united state of Africa is a breackthrough for the third world to be united for peoples world.by the sense of globalizing the peoples to make world free from the imperial axis is now prime task and Brother Qaddafi has taken the task as his prime task.i suport the task of united state s of Africa.for suporting this i also wrote a book of 200pages name" world umma:the idea of Brother Qaddafi for united states of Africa.i also collect 5000 members of Banladesh for suporting the idea.
Date: 18/02/2011 11:48:43
Comment: i congrasulate the important opinion about AFRICAN UNITY. THERE IS UNION BUT UNITY OF AFRICA IS NOT NOW. SO UNITY SHOULD BE APPERANT TO SERVIVE THE AFRICAN PEOPLES INDEPENDENCE. ACTUAL INDEPENDENCE WILL BE ACHIVE IN FORM OF UNITY OF UNITED STATES OF AFRICA. BROTHER QADDAFI BACICALLY POIN OUT THE NEED AND POTENTIALITY OF UNITED STATES OF AFRICA. WE COGRASULATE IT .WE ALSO FORM A COMMITTE FOR SUPORTING THE CONFEDARATION OF AFRICA AND ALSO COLECT 5000 SINGNATURE TO SUPORT THIS. A BOOK NAME 'WORLD UMMA: IDEA OF BROTHER QADDAFI FOR GLOBALIZING THE CONFEDARETION OF AFRICA'
Date: 22/02/2011 02:26:05
Comment: This is an excellent idea. Perhaps Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, now that he has been relieved of some of his burdens of leadership at home, might humbly accept the opportunity to lead the USA?
Date: 03/02/2011 23:25:07
I agree with you. The struggle for Africa to become a united nation is a huge one. It is resource-rich, yet superficially made weak (originally by colonists) today continued by banking institutions. China could potentially be a great partner to have, but then again, they just want Africa's resources like everyone else. Be wary. The faster Africa unites and establishes a modernized unity, the better for the continent's people...but don't expect some opposition on the way!
Name: Amir Kubwimana
Date: 19/03/2011 20:24:44
Comment: FIRST OF ALL AFRICA SHOUL DENOUNCE ITSELF FROM UN. UN IS A FAILED ORGANISATION WHOS MEMBERS ARE GETTING SPIED ON BY USA. AFTER THIS THEY SHOULD BE A REFERENDUM TO ASK AFRICANS IF THEY WANT TO UNITS ALL THE STATES, AND I AM SURE EVERYONE WILL VOTE FOR THIS IDEA. OTHERWISE OUR LEADERS WILL REGRET FOR NOT DOING WHAT IS GOOD FOR ALL OUR GREAT GRAND CHILDREN. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, WE CAN'T CARRY ON FEEDING THE WEST AND BEING LOOKED UPON AS THE LOOSERS ONES. OOD IDEA DR SHIHIBI.
Date: 21/03/2011 18:47:52
Comment: US and the West will never cease exploiting Africa. It has been going on for centuries. I am glad Sino-African relationship is getting better. Hopefully China will be an economical partner to the United states of Africa in future.
Name: mesih isa
Date: 28/03/2011 15:39:56
Comment: there is unjustice on Libya and againist its goverment.we must fight for heavenly advantages giving up all eartly disatractives to cover signs to the right to do so.be atractive from eartly richness to be wiser to hamble better before GOD -ALLAH sacrifice even entire world for eternal hidayet.ask for blessing do not afraid of diying.itis just a short break or even just aq transfer.that is what ALLAH says. halis yılmaz istanbul TURKEY
Date: 20/04/2011 18:15:22
Comment: There is the European Union SO why not the African Union (call it UnitedStates of Africa if you wish)----Of course, the ignorant uneducated American republican warmongers will be against it as they like to infiltrate sovereign independent countries to steal their resources especially oil and install their puppets, this is why they had Patrice Lumumba assassinated years ago and now foment trouble in Somalia and other African countries and now Libya
Date: 21/05/2011 20:47:46
Comment: I am grateful with the comments posted here by the preceding writers except the first one who lacks information and education. My analysis is Africans are terribly annoyed with the West and USA's atrocities, inhuman, malicious actions on Libya and the African soils. Personally, am terribly disturbed and wondering what world order there is today. How can the UN of which we are members be monopolised by USA, UK and France's invested decisions? Are reliably part of a sensible body? We are of course loosing out on all fronts and I can see ourselves vanishing at all dimensions. Let us continue to condemn the west as we pave way for the United States of Africa. It will be achieved one-day b'se it is not a new idea. For those like the first writer who think we are being prompted for the first time to do research, we are sorry that has been done over years. What we are doing now is refining our ideologies and drawing updated strategies. I also urge my African counterparts to cooperate with CHINA in all aspects and discard any possible cooperation with the West and USA. We can do this by buying purely Chinese and dealing purely with the Chinese products and not USA or west. Let us starve them on one side and see how it all counts at the end. There is also need to do in depth research into technology so that at the end of the day we should stop buying their missiles and outdated technology and insist on developing ours. Stop buying hopeless military eqpts and machineries b'se this is not magic. And lets learn to appreciate the resources we have and then begin from there c'se we are blessed with all that human life needs to live
Comment: God Bless Africa. from a lady in UK who hates the way we are treating Mouammer and the people of Libya. one day all the world will be wanting to come to your great continent to live. I ask people now, why do they come to the cold rainy UK with all the sunshine in Africa. One day everyone will want to be in Africa.
Date: 14/07/2011 15:38:12
Comment: jahangir khan please send me your email address to mine up there. And anyone else cause i realise we sort of have something in common about United States of Africa. we can volunteer to teach our brothers and sisters who have a negative mental attitude due to lack of education, information and hence health insight into the prospects of their own beloved continent. On addition to this, am a computer scientist by profession and out of this am designing a website that will be on in the next few days to address these concerns. So, post me your contacts and i will in turn post you the website by saturday. thanks for being this concerned and responsible.
Date: 08/01/2011 23:45:54
Comment: Please see the political turmoil within Libya and than think about USA. I mean United States Of Africa. Although the problems facing my beloved Libya have been aggravated by the intervention of the west merely for Oil under the false pretense of protectong the civilians, the fact thay the wealth has not been distributed amongst the population simply provides a classic example of what United States of Africa will ensure , if formed!!!There are far too many corrupt leaders in Africa who would sell their country for the right money!
Gaza, Somalia: Humanity Lives On - By Ramzy Baroud I remember how exhilarated I felt when I was told I was old enough to fast for the month of Ramadan. My feelings had little to do with abstention from food and drink between dawn and sunset each day. For a child, there is little joy in that.