Saturday, January 10, 2009

Grand Debate on the African Union Government

Commenting on

Speech by

H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda

at the

9th Ordinary Session of The African Union Summit

Accra, Ghana 2nd July, 2007

Theme: Grand Debate on the Union Government

While some of us strongly advocate for fast tracking complete integration and hopefully eventual complete African Union (surely its now proven we can afford to keep hope alive and earn the rewards in this current age of great hopes), when I read some excerpts from some of our leaders, I find myself drawing big breathe and sit back with my mind pondering.

Reading this:

"First, while economically I support integration with everybody, politically we should only integrate with people who are either similar or compatible with us. The whole of Africa has got some obvious incompatibilities when it comes to political integration"

There is a valid question of accepting the challenges in the so-called “incompatibilities". However, there are plenty of "compatible" and important things and or values, which not as an exhaustive list are human basic requirement for development, freedom, and rule of law. Yes, some of these "incompatibilities" may stem from or result in, different interpretations of the basic human requirements, but for sure, if we mean well for a true eventual African union, any form of integration, be is phased or staged, will and must promote the side that is "compatible" across the continent, and that is what needs to be promoted and managed for eventual integration/union.

The speech goes on:

"Why do we think that East Africa is similar or compatible? It is because all the people of East Africa are Bantu, Nilo Hamitic, Hamitic, Nilotic or Sudanic. Their languages and dialects fall into two broad categories: the Nilo-Saharan group of languages and the Niger-Congo group of languages."

My argument here is that, we are using the wrong reasons to make a case for the African unity. Assuming they are the right reasons, and so taken as they are, then we are planting bad seeds which will eventually explode based on the same line of arguments that were used to forge the union. I think this is a very dangerous trend, short sighted on the benefits and potentially hazardous in a long run.

And finally this last statement:

"In fact East Africa and Congo is where these two groups met many thousands of years ago. Their languages are linked. Above all, since about 1200 years ago, the People of the East African coast distilled a non-tribal dialect out of the languages of the area - Swahili"

Though I guess the speech was attempting to get the message home for a case of functional and rational integration within African blocks as put, however, use of origins, language identities as values or instruments in integrating the African continent, is actually cementing the same problems as planned in 1885 Berlin conference, but simply taken to the higher level. In my opinion, this is fundamentally the wrong approach and is what brought us to where we are in a first place. This approach may promote a few of the current head of states as pioneers to head these functional blocks, but will not help the African integration as a whole in a long run. Will only manufacture future problems but even in a grander scale.

We need to get out of that old school mentality and aggressively more think about basic values that unites us a human race and what we want to build and protect in Africa, based on how underdeveloped the continent is, political power we need to amass for the good of the continent in the world's position as we navigate and negotiate our position in the world, and peace and security, wealth creation based with what we have as our natural resources, which the continent is heavily endowed. In short, the development of African people in the current context with all the advantages we amass from having a functioning unity based on our values as Africans. If we can live as Africans, we can work as Africans.

All that is needed is setting up solid infrastructures for working rule of law, respect to human rights, access to education for the mass, fast tracked communication and movement of people. I have painted such that it seems so easy. No its not, however, when we set the right values and the right reasons to unite (not the origins with Bantus and or Nilotics or any such divisions), we will be setting the right precedence for correcting the wrongs in Africa, and the future will be safer for the coming generations. Plans then need to be drawn and followed through, with these values as the united pillars.

The bottom line is, we need not creating new values of segregation for the sake of unity by name. We will be creating just another big problem for future generations. We know what unites us as people in Africa as fundamental values, and those are what we need to build up on while understanding how to minimize the differences, all with aim to achieve a common goal, better life for all Africans.

© Apollo BS Temu 2009


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