THE AFRICAN UNION AT 50: LOOKING FORWARD TO 50 MORE YEARS

upa-admin 01 Haziran 2013 2.488 Okunma 0
THE AFRICAN UNION AT 50: LOOKING FORWARD TO 50 MORE YEARS

At 50, the African Union, successor to the Organization of African Unity celebrates a long step towards a highly prized goal. Since 2002, the AU has worked towards economic unity, perhaps a shift from a primary objective its predecessor failed to meet: political independence along with the development of the continent. You see, all of them are different and the achievement of one may come at the expense of the other.

Beyond celebration, the African Union needs to focus on being an example and a pride to the fast growing younger generation. With no one to look up to, the African youth is left at the mercy of all sorts of beliefs.

The whole is the sum of its parts! I mean how can we expect the AU to make a big leap forward while we the member states swim in the political conundrum? With the exception of few countries such as Ghana, Botswana and South Africa to an extent, most African countries are led by governments without ears for their nations’ political and economic needs aspirations (except sometimes for their inner circles and ethnic brothers). This is also reflected in the almost silence of the AU on issues such as the development of Pan-Africanism, the need for an ‘African education’, the revaluation of agriculture among others. Unrestricted trade with the rest of the world under the banner of ‘free trade’ has led a very few to reap the wealth of their respective countries for themselves, thus halting the overall collective advancement of the continent. As such, the African Union has often proved itself useless, just like the UN when it comes to sorting out the problems of Africa. One has to gaze at the Maghreb and Great Lake regions of Africa to receive confirmation.

One certainly has to take responsibility for the payment of bribes, and for once let us try to look at ourselves first before blaming the foreigners whose sole purpose is their enrichment. The rampant corruption in most of the countries members of the AU is one of the deadliest thorns the union (it’s rarely called that!). How can the continent grow if leadership is confiscated by one man?

Unity

On unity, I would like to ask a question: how many times has the African Union been referred to as a union? In news reports or books or newspapers? In all instances it is referred to as an organization, or further as an organization for unity but seldom as a union. Maybe it is because even Africans see the concept of unity as farfetched. Putting economic interdependence first starting 2002 was a good and well-received move to strengthen the bond between African countries. But unity and union do not represent the same idea; and while African countries might be united economically in the future, there is not much of a union in terms of their goals.

When we look at the European Union (mind you that its ‘union nature’ depends not on whether it has succeeded or failed but on that a sense of unity was formed amongst Europeans – putting the people first), we notice that it wasn’t the Economic and Monetary Union that brought Europeans together. The EMU did bring European leaders on the same table but it was initiatives like the Schengen Agreement that brought and still brings different parts of Europe together. Trade plays an important lever for hastening economic integration and ultimately political unity. A number of supportive measures in sports, culture, development, education etc. need to be put in place. The AU Commission – which is overly political & hierarchical and much less professional, needs an overhaul to guide these initiatives.

Looking to the future

We have to re-focus, switch gears for a while and for the next 50 years build a legacy for Africa because right now we seem to be on the path of the “Never-ending story of Africa on the quest for Pan-African independence”. Africa has the manpower and the resources necessary to make a dramatic change but as long as governments are destructive, only the opposite will occur. We can talk about the African Union today but our leaders have failed to deliver its vision because of their lack of humility, accountability & integrity to whom they govern. There is no single voice, no common goal.

Africa does not need technology to ‘address’ its issues as if it is a bed-stricken old lady. It needs, with the help of the union, to tap into the creative minds embedded in its youth, one of its most valuable yet unexploited resource. Education would be one of the keys the union should tap in. All the ills of Mother Africa are a direct result of the lack of education: religious fanaticism because people don’t question, corruption because people don’t understand, birth rate because people accept religious idiocy without question, tribalism because people don’t discuss.

François-Xavier ADA

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