African Unity?

Members of the five-year-old African Union have begun floating the idea of a single continental government, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the EU and the US. Advocates call the pan-African government the only solution to the legacy of colonialism on the continent. Unfortunately, those leaders who back it are the ones Africa needs least:

Southern and East African leaders have rejected plans to set up a pan-African government, as suggested by Libya’s head of state Col Muammar Gaddafi. …
Some of the 50 leaders at the African Union (AU) summit in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, fear the issue will push the crises in Zimbabwe, Somalia and Darfur off the agenda.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said unity was vital to make the continent truly independent of the West, as he spoke to a crowd of cheering Ghanaians.
“Unless we put our act together… and start pooling our resources together, we will never, ever prosper from any aid from any source outside Africa,” President Mugabe said on Sunday in a speech at the tomb of Ghana’s first president.

This probably falls into the category of right message, very wrong messengers. If the nations of Africa could unite in an economic and political confederation of some sort, it might alleviate the constant warring between the nations on the continent — but that might be putting the cart before the horse. Much of the war in Africa causes the economic and political fractures, and in most cases comes from tribal conflicts. That’s not a legacy of colonialism, but the result of stubborn tradition. If the various tribes cannot settle their difference under the construct of statehood, then a pan-African government would probably make the problem worse, not better.
In any case, the leaders least likely to instill confidence in a continental government would be Moammar Ghaddafi and Robert Mugabe. Both hardly qualify as enlightened leaders. Ghaddafi runs one of the most paranoid dictatorships in the world, although he has mellowed somewhat since giving up his nuclear-weapons program. Mugabe has turned Zimbabwe from a breadbasket to a wasteland in a single generation, thanks to his insane economic policies. Inflation has gotten so bad there that traders refuse to buy and sell Zimbabwe’s currency.
Neither man should be in charge of a neighborhood watch program, and yet they want to be the leaders of a continental government. Given their proclivity for personal aggrandization at the expense of their already-unfortunate subjects, this looks like nothing more than a naked power grab, a chance for both to realize personal power over any benefit to Africa.
So far, their colleagues aren’t buying it. Some nations want to pursue the plan anyway, figuring that the balkers will eventually accede. The nations of Africa would be better advised to reform their politics within the existing national borders, and to hasten the exit of incompetent and brutal dictators before allowing them a path to greater abuses and personal enrichment.

10 thoughts on “African Unity?”

  1. If the various tribes cannot settle their difference under the construct of statehood, then a pan-African government would probably make the problem worse, not better.
    Not if it’s done right. African nations frequently have trouble pulling together because most of them are artificial boundaries that cut across tribal borders, forcing hereditary enemies to coexist. Consider the consequences of a complete socio-political reorganization of Africa — one that throws away the colonial-power-imposed borders and instead draws new provincial borders along old tribal-border lines. Each tribe is then a province something like an American state, with partial autonomy, and none has complete dominance at the federal level.
    The more likely outcome of such a plan is an endless series of border wars. But it’s also possible that the outcome would be a peaceful pan-African union. (Especially if part of the plan involves taking every crooked politician on the continent and shooting them, but I digress…)
    In any case, however, I agree that these thugs are entirely the wrong people to be advocating it. A pan-Africa union run by the likes of Khadafi and Mugabe would turn the whole continent into Zimbabwe writ large.

  2. Unfortunately, such an idea almost never resembles a milk churn, where cream rises to the top; is generally becomes a toilet bowl where something else rises to the top. Fortunately, there is a lot of resistance to the All-Africa government by the majority of leaders who would not surface.
    The is also some intermediate efforts, such as the East Africa Federation idea. The problem is, the incompetancies of each state of Uganda, Kenya,Tansania, Rwanda would like be the ‘gift’ to the others.
    They need to try economic federations first before they progress to bigger things.

  3. it will take the equivalent of the “second coming” for africa to unite past tribal lines. collectively the continent lives in about the 12th century with the veneer of the 18th. they are just leaving the vassal age. hundred’s of years of civil wars await them as they slowly move forward, finally tiring of blood lust and the poverty it brings with it.
    there is always hope for the second coming………

  4. Sadly Africa is suffering not so much from bad leadership, but bad led. It’s not due to race or anything, it’s due to culture: Personal gain, and Tribal gain, supersede any kind of desire to do good for one’s Country. It doesn’t matter what the size, shape or location of that Country, either… no matter what boundaries you draw or which despot takes over; if the Citizens have no desire to make that Nation prosper, the idea is doomed.
    That’s why I’m so against the idea of splitting up Iraq. I was surprised frankly, to learn that all three major groups in Iraq are willing to see themselves as Iraqis first, tribes second. When I heard that, I knew Iraq could be a Democracy with its current borders. Like any victim of Violent Abuse they need help getting free of the Violence and the skills to make it on their own; but once they have that they will be a true Power in the region.
    Africa has no such feeling of ‘community’ whether you are looking at the current Nations borders, or a larger Pan-African Nation. Given an education and a purpose they could develop one… if AIDS doesn’t continue to kill off the best and brightest among them. I think we’re down to Divine Intervention on this one; and I don’t think Kwadauphi in any of his spellings is the guy to do it…

  5. Africa’s major problem has not been war between its various countries. It has been poor over-all governance. How adding another layer of bureaucracy composed of the likes of Mugabe will improve this situation is unclear.

  6. You see how these African morons act at the United Nations? Now folks want to consider letting them form a governmental consortium. Please.
    Stop sending money to Africa. Send them nothing and let them sink or swim on their own.

  7. An African Union is an Islamists wet dream. The UN is already de facto controlled by Muslims, at least in terms of attitude and numbers, but an African Union will have no countervailing Western influence to moderate it. In my opinion the specious reference to the “legacy of colonialism” is really a code for “all Western influence, especially Christianity”, which Islamists dearly want to eliminate in their drive for control of Africa. Aside from the obvious war zones, southern Christians are slowly being crushed in Nigeria, and the Muslim nations on Ethiopia’s border are making noises about “crushing its Crusaders”. Islam has always appealed to the warlord and tyrant, which Africa has no shortage of, and any sort of pan-African government could be the trojan horse to cement its hold on the continent, especially if it could bring some of the warlords like Mugabe under its wing.

  8. Pan-continent governments are a terrible idea whether led by a Mugabe or a Washington. Competition is good whether in business or government. The bigger an organization is the more difficult it is to reform for many reasons. There are always despotic and corrupt governments. When most of the population is a long distance from the border i.e. a very large country or a continent, it is hard for the citizens to receive communications (ideas) and material aid from the outside. There have been two extremely large empires in history, the Khan dynasty and the Commissars. Not many people regret their passing. The USSR lasted seven decades and its nucleus, Russia, in itself a large empire, has been around longer. The Khan empire lasted much longer. Neither of these entities brought their people freedom, justice or prosperity.
    The EU started out as a trade organization which was a good idea. It evolved toward a super government. It appeared to be about to adopt that infamous and incomprehensible constitution a short while ago with incorruptible republican democrats like Chirac and Schroeder in power. We have enough trouble with our brilliant concise clear constitution and until recently we had a common language. There was no way that the EU would have been a successful state with that constitution. It might, never the less, have lasted a long time.
    The UN purports to be a super government. It was predicted by some to be a corrupt, incompetent and ineffective government partial to the worst participating states at the time of its formation. It has lived up to expectations.

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