When will the leaders of Africa, indeed of the whole world, come to grips with the realization that the continent, is engulfed in a perpetual civil war and that the basis for their existence is not seated in sovereign nation statehood, but in adequate political representation and fair and structured access to the local as well as the global economies? There are simply too many anthropologists, sociologists and researchers of other disciplines who analyzed the history of postcolonial Africa scientifically to disregard their findings much longer.
The leaders of the East African Community have come to realize that greater economic and political integration with less sovereignty of the current nation states is the route to go for the region. The Federation of East Africa is currently being discussed as a logical step towards the structural survival of Africa. On the 14th April the Norwegian Council for Africa reported:
"The Cabinet said Kenyans should be aware of the implications of the East African Federation through debate in Parliament and in the public on the issues raised in the road map. A statement from the Presidential Press Service quoted President Kibaki as saying that the world was moving towards closer integration and East Africa must not be left behind.”
"Already, the East African Customs Union is a reality. The economies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have started feeling the advantages of integration, which has set the stage for even closer co-operation," said the President.
The President asked Kenyans to debate the road map.
"We want to take the message of East Africa co-operation out of high-level summit meetings of Heads of State, to the boardrooms of our private and public corporations, the streets and homesteads in our rural households," said the President.
Kibaki said regional integration is not a choice but a necessary strategy for sustainable development. Among the proposals in the road map is the establishment of monetary policy co-coordinating committees to start working on a detailed strategic plan to ensure the region gets one currency by December 2009.
Another recommendation is that the East African Legislative Assembly should debate for approval of a preliminary draft constitution by 2008. A referendum on the constitution would be held in September 2009.
The Federation of East Africa will come into being by 2010, only five years from now! The borders of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda will disappear by that time, to be replaced by smaller individual federal states. What these states will look like and how many there will be, is not clear at this moment in time. But an authority on these matters, Professor Dani Wadada Nabudere believes that the federation will consist of several dozen ethnic based states. They are not alone in their aspiration for peace -- Rwanda and Burundi currently enjoy observer status at the negotiations and are likely to join the new federation.
East Africa is now actively shedding the yoke of their postcolonial nation statehood - they have experienced first hand that those artificial nation states would never survive without the social glue. For their own unique reasons it was impossible for colonies, arbitrarily lumped together, to survive the rigors of national statehood in a globalizing world, where states group together for economic survival and growth on a geographic basis.
The current prospect of an African Union of nation states has an even smaller chance of survival as the real problem is not addressed. The world should now realize that the Africa project has failed and should be scrapped. The world community should join hands with the East African Federation and encourage the rest of Africa to follow their example soon.
The philosophy of 'small is beautiful' is the common sense political model to pull the continent away from the abyss of famine, disease and violence it is currently facing. Africa has huge mineral resources, a fantastic climate for agriculture, a huge labor pool and capable of feeding the people on planet earth, instead of suffering one famine after the other. Commercial Agriculture with agri-industrial processing plants is Africa's most potent survival factor. But for such an economy to flourish, peace and stability is an absolute prerequisite. Merely throwing aid money at the problem will not work - it never did.
The reality is that the demography of the continent is cast in deep historical moulds. That should be recognized as a given fact of life, not to be changed artificially with social engineering experiments. In principle, it requires that the territories occupied by ethnicities should be granted their internal self-determination. In this manner they would be able to determine their own form of government, as well as formulating their own rules for accessing the economy of Africa, as well as the global economy.
In order for Africa to be liberated, the free spirit of her people should first be liberated from the confusing unafrican political system of wanabee national powers. Politicians like to hold history, colonialism or apartheid responsible for their own failures, but the truth lies in inherent structural faults. The real problem lies in the concept of artificial nation states where egotistical politicians try to convert the population into faceless social zombies and instill an artificial geographic patriotism for their nation state. Those enormous egos are causing blind spots that place political correctness above the acceptance of reality; believing that a country's transformation and image should be more important than the efficiency of the services they have to provide to the tax payers, who are their employers.
Liberate the spirit of Africa's people so that they may see a clear road and a peaceful future ahead of them, a road on which young and old can face the future together. A caged spirit dwells in perpetual conflict with its environment, but a free spirit is creative, is results oriented, peaceful, tolerant and supportive of his fellow human being.
A new realism is thus required for Africa. The current Africa pessimism is entirely due to the perception that the existing national structures will be extrapolated indefinitely. Those structural flaws will prevent any moral, political or economic resurgence. Such a paradigm should make way for a scenario of a liberated Africa consisting of two- or three hundred federal states, each with autonomy over their own domestic issues according to their own means, or to co-operate with other states to share facilities, capabilities or capacities.
That is the future scenario of a liberated Africa, a continent liberated from itself...!
For an African Renaissance to be successful, an African Federation has to replace the current toothless African Union. All the current national boundaries should be wiped out and replaced by more sensible borders. The inhabitants of each territory should actively participate in drawing up those borders. New federal states should come into existence, each with its own government structures, elected by their own people and not appointed by any other major interest group
The East African Federation would be a precursor for the West African, Central African and Southern African Federations, making the linkage to the Pan-African Federation a relatively small step after the legal, security, monetary and political issues had been resolved.
The Southern African Federation could consist of the Kingdoms of Lesotho, Swaziland and KwaZulu/Natal, Southern Namibia, Ovamboland, Eastern Cape, Eastern Pretoria/Centurion, Egoli, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, the Free state, Maputo Region, Tete and Nyassa provinces of Mozambique, Sjonaland and Matabeleland in Zimbabwe, etc., etc. totaling about twenty federal states. Even white Afrikaners would then be able to satisfy their political aspirations for self-determination around the Eastern Pretoria/Centurion area where they form a natural majority of 70%. Other metropolitan areas populated by detribalized citizens, have in fact adopted a new metropolitan ethnic character and could form their own federal state such as in the Johannesburg-Soweto environs.
An outbreak of continuous peace is crucial for Africa to reach its full economic potential. Europe's history caused its boundaries to be drawn in blood, so that the EU today consists of ethnic states invaded by minorities from other ethnic states. The group rights of such national minorities are guaranteed in international treaties and contained in the EU stability package with its member states. In order to secure peace for Northern Ireland, Britain had to become a federation with Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales -- all enjoying self-determination to provide the political stability required for sustained economic development. Tiny Switzerland, with its numerous cantons, have shown the way to ensure lasting peace for many centuries in the turmoil of ethnic conflicts in Europe around it.
Is it possible to conceive that the new political and business elites, who today occupying positions of power and prosperity beyond their wildest dreams, would sacrifice their new found privileged occupations and opportunity to accumulate assets for a more mundane federal system? Would they support such a program with the same political energy that they mustered before 1994?
Full text of his article is available at http://globalpolitician.com/articles.asp?ID=844&print=true
By Johann Wingard
A retired industrialist who actively participated in the industrialization of South Africa from 1960 to 1993.
Comment on this article!