I guess I will be the one to cover as much of this story as I possibly can since the US News media has flat out ignored it–but we know all about LA Mayor’s affair, which has no bearing on anything I am remotely concerned about–but I digress. I don’t have a budget to go to Africa–as much as I’d like to–so the best I can do is to point you to stories I am finding on the web about the process happening in the African Union to build some kind of unified government for the continent, which some in the AU have been labeling the United States of Africa.
Am I the only person in the US who thinks this story is relevant? How will this change the geo-political structures of power? What do the masses of Africans stand to benefit? Or lose? How will regional and ethnic conflicts be addressed? What does this mean for countries’ relationships to lenders like the World Bank and IMF? Will they be able to restructure their economies to better benefit their populations? What does this mean for the projects that are already underway to better link the diasporic communities of African descent people to the continent, especially West Africa? What will drive the new constitution–will the conservative Christians or Muslims dominate, or will secularists or leftists? Will human rights protections be in place, or will women, children, and queers continue to suffer abuses of patriarchial power? What will the racial balance of power look like in the unified government?
Perhaps I will interview Africans I know here in the US to get their opinions about it. But I found a really great article on the “United States of Africa” on All Africa.com–a reprint of an editorial from The Times, a paper in Zambia. The editorial is supportive of the unification saying
Generally, the concept is acceptable especially that it envisages building on the ideas and spirit of the Africa’s founding fathers who foresaw that a fragmented Africa could not compete effectively in the world.
Indeed evidence is there to see that the current status quo has disadvantaged the continent in the global economy and politics and always marginalised by the developed world.
For example, Africa’s voice at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is weak and lonely even though the current WTO trade regimes disadvantage the majority of African states.
True dat. But then they go further to explain the need to move slowly:
…it is important that the formation of the AU government is done in a systematic and cautious manner to avoid pitfalls that may jeopardise its ability to function.
There are many issues that need to be resolved by member countries and a consensus reached before they accede to the idea.
As AU chairperson John Kufour said, AU’s commission to manage the technical aspect of the integration and the political will are critical matters that cannot be glossed over.
Apart from that, there must be exhaustive consultation among the people in the process so that when the continental government is finally formed,ownership would be claimed the majority.
In addition, a Google News search turned up another very thoughtful editorial in Ghana’s The Statesman, which is basically calling for the African Union to make available the video/audio tapes and any transcripts of the closed-door session to the media, and by extension, the African public.
…like all Ordinary Sessions of the African Union, the meetings were closed to the media, and therefore the public. What the organisers failed to realise was that this was no “Ordinary” Session.
It was an extraordinary session because for the first time an AU (the ninth of its kind) summit was devoted to a one item agenda – that agenda was the Grand Debate on Union Government. A debate about an agenda – integration – which Africans are united to see come to pass.”
…Again, making it public would have done a lot of good in helping the public to go along with their leaders. The public would have better understood the issues. It would have ensured a deeper participation and appreciation of the African public in the issues at stake. Indeed, observers spoke of the “sophistication” of Gaddafi’s thoughts on how the unity process should go, and the brass and tacks approach proffered by Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi.
As one leader asked, would the debate be historic because we are having it at all or historic if only we can come up with a ground-breaking resolution?
From what we have learnt, we believe it is the kind of debate that can be played over and over again over the years. A debate that can be turned into literature to help the public better appreciate what the pertinent issues are.
I’ll keep following this story…