26 April 2017

Africa: Union - a Catalyst for African Union

Photo: The Citizen
Former Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere.

Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar that was inked on 26th April, 1964 - (53 years now) between Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume remains a great pride to Tanzanians and shining example for African continent as a whole.

What former Ghanaian President, the late Nkwame Nkrumah and Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere advocated for in the early 1960s about United States of Africa or African Continent Unity could be realised only if political will of African Heads of state was there.

After 53 years doing every thing possible to remove a number of challenges that threatened to kill the Union, it is high time now to aspire for a greater Union, think big for greater issues such as the East African Federation and United States of Africa (USA).

It is very possible to create the second USA in this world. If Tanzanians can wake up and revive the wishes of Mwalimu Nyerere and Nkrumah, USA, obviously will be big credit for Tanzanians. Our Union must be instrumental and a catalyst in pushing for greater issues. If Americans managed to unite their states to date what fails African countries to do so.

As Nkrumah and Nyerere advocated in their great speeches delivered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 24th May, 1963 during the conference to form the United States of Africa, but simply settled for the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), that spirit must be survived and translated into action.

The two great leaders enriched us with great and wise ideas on USA, but since they passed away nobody is talking about the important agenda, an agenda that if well executed no doubt Africa could become another super power.

The ability to do it is there, however, the political will is lacking. Why most African leaders are reluctant and lacking the political will to take action on this issue?

If Africa can agree and ready to unite African countries the advantages are great since we are not poor of essential economic resources as the late Ghanaian President Nkrumah listed it. We have more resources than United State of America (USA) and even Europe.

Although African Union has replaced OAU, it doesn't have sense as long as there is no real Union among African states. This is not what Nkrumah and Nyerere advocated for. The two leaders wanted the African countries to unite and form a political federation of Africa, in other words to have United States of Africa (USA).

The problem that stalls African unity is leaders' selfishness and power hungry, because African leaders are reluctant to sacrifice their political leadership positions. We would love to have only one president for the whole of Africa.That is why some of the African leaders stick to leadership position despite their office terms ends.

Under such situation, African Unity will remain elusive for ever. From those early days, Nkrumah made it very clear that; "The people of Africa are crying for Unity. The late President Nkrumah said on 24th May 1963 that African Union (AU) has its roots in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

He said in his speech that was thus fitting to look back in order to look forward. On 24th May 1963, as 32 independent African countries met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to find ways to unite the continent, Ghana's then president, Nkrumah, gave one of the greatest speeches of his life, a speech which had since become the definitive blueprint for a strong, but so far sadly elusive, African unity.

An extract of Nkrumah's speech reminds us of how far Africa has come and how far it still has to go. Tanzania's founding president, Nyerere, 34 years after Nkrumah's 1963 speech also underscores the Union of African States.

"Our objective is African union now. There is no time to waste. We must unite now or perish. I am confident that by our concerted effort and determination, we shall lay here the foundation for a continental Union of African States.

"A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation of our union at this conference. It is our responsibility to execute this mandate by creating here and now, the formula upon which the requisite superstructure may be created," Nkrumah said.

" Expounding further, the intellectual scholar said further that on this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence.

"Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neocolonialist controls and interference," he emphasized in his speech that day.

Nothing, he said, will be of avail, except the united act of a united Africa. We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one-and-ahalf centuries of political independence.

As a continent, we have emerged into independence in a different age, with imperialism grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced and more dangerous in its international associations. Our economic advancement demands the end of neo-colonialist domination of Africa.

But just as we understood that the shaping of our national destinies required of each of us our political independence and bent all our strength to this attainment, so we must recognise that our economic independence resides in our African union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement.

The unity of our continent, no less than our separate independence, will be delayed if, indeed, we do not lose it, by hobnobbing with colonialism. African unity is, above all, a political kingdom which can only be gained by political means.

The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round. If, therefore, now that we are independent we allow the same conditions to prevail that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which overthrew colonialism will be mobilised against us.

The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people. Unless we do this by our concerted efforts, within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress at the tempo demanded by today's events and the mood of our people.

The symptoms of our troubles will grow and the troubles themselves become chronic. It will then be too late for pan-African unity to secure for us stability and tranquillity in our labour for a continent of social justice and material well-being.

Our continent certainly exceeds all the others in potential hydroelectric power, which some experts assess as 42 per cent of the world's total. What need is there for us to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water for the industrialised areas of the world?

It is said, of course, that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications, and no internal markets, and that we cannot even agree among ourselves how best to utilise our resources for our own social needs. Yet all stock exchanges in the world are preoccupied with Africa's gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ore.

Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy. Fifty-two per cent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from our shores.

Africa provides more than 60 per cent of the world's gold. A great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for electronics, of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter industries - the basic economic might of the foreign powers - come from our continent.

Experts have estimated that the Congo Basin alone can produce enough food crops to satisfy the requirements of nearly half the population of the whole world and here we sit talking about gradualism, talking about step by step.

Are you afraid to tackle the bull by the horn? For centuries, Africa has been the milk cow of the Western world. Was it not our continent that helped the Western world to build up its accumulated wealth? We have the resources.

It was colonialism in the first place that prevented us from accumulating the effective capital; but we ourselves have failed to make full use of our power in independence to mobilise our resources for the most effective take-off into thorough-going economic and social development. We have been too busy nursing our separate states to understand fully the basic need of our union, rooted in common purpose, common planning and common endeavour.

A union that ignores these fundamental necessities will be but a sham. It is only by uniting our productive capacity and the resultant production that we can amass capital. And once we start, the momentum will increase. With capital controlled by our own banks, harnessed to our own true industrial and agricultural development, we shall make our advance.

We shall accumulate machinery and establish steel works, iron foundries and factories; we shall link the various states of our continent with communications by land, sea and air. We shall be cable from one place to another, phone from one place to the other and astound the world with our hydro-electric power; we shall drain marshes and swamps, clear infested areas, feed the undernourished and rid our people of parasites and disease.

The opportunity for African Union is very much possible, therefore let us revive the Agenda. Tanzania is in a better position and tackle the issue smoothly, taking into account it is used for matters of the Union. Let's hope that our Union will rekindle the African Union agenda.


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