10 January 2016

Rwanda: It Is Time Africa Opens Up to Africans


Visa fees have been waived for all African nationals whose countries will be participating in the forth coming Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) due to start next week.

That in itself is no extraordinary, but it just goes to stress that boundaries (borders), especially in African countries, are still the number one barriers to the continent's integration.

It beats logic when one has to travel to an African country and is subjected to unbelievable bureaucratic acrobatics and in an instant, someone with a western passport is waved through without any hindrance. In some cases, the countries where the visa-free traveler hails from will not extend the same courtesy.

Rwanda and Mauritius and maybe another country have opened their borders with free restrictions, especially for African nationals. It is not an act of kindness, just a simple step in promoting the much vaunted "African unity" that has failed to see the day, 50 years-plus later.

Football is one of the world's most unifying factors; warring factions lay down their guns to watch their favourite teams. That behavior even becomes more pronounced when the national team is on the pitch.

But when someone has to travel to another African country that has no diplomatic representation from the country of origin, and is directed to a former colonial power to decide on the visa request, then something is terribly wrong.

Africa should have a seamless border and travel policy and begin to realize that there is strength in unity and that diversity is not a threat but an added advantage.


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