Africa: a house divided by itself

As Africa awaits the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa many still ponder the impact the summit would have on the people of the continent in as far as international justice is concerned – By Mundia Mundia

Picture of African leaders attending one of the summits ©Iwacu

Picture of African leaders attending one of the summits ©Iwacu

At the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, the founding fathers of that organization WEB Du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Sekou Toure, Haile Selassie and Jomo Kenyatta, etc envisaged a Pan-African body whose vision was to eradicate colonialism, racism and neo-colonialism from the continent. To protect Africa from neo-colonialism, the founding fathers formed the Casablanca block. They were far sighted militant leaders.
However, they were fought by former colonial powers including the pro-western block to form the Monrovia block. These states forced the inclusion of Article III in the OAU Charter. This Article is still in force even after changing the name from Organization of African Unity to African Union. It highlights the respect of sovereignty of all member states. It proclaims non-interference in the internal affairs of others and called for respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state. Without Article III the founding fathers had a vision of having a continent with a unitary government, a federal army that would protect Africa from any external and internal crises.
As African leaders are meeting at a special summit on Kenya, two things come to mind. First, a saying by Confucius and second the ascent of China. In the first incidence, Confucius said: ‘Learning is like rowing upstream to stop is to fall behind.’ This saying is a propos to African leaders. The ascent of China is a worldwide concern. The fear of China by the West cannot be ignored. In fact, it is an obsession. Many African states have since deepened the ‘look East’ policy. By 2050, China will be the world economic power house. China’s investment in Africa is not hidden. To face China of the 21st Century, Africa must unite, and forge a common front lest we will remain divided and exploited by China the same way some Western powers misused African leaders for the past 50 years.

The AU summit in Ethiopia

Thus, on October 13, the extraordinary AU summit on Kenya will meet in the headquarters building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; donated and constructed by China at a cost of FIB 290 billion. The last AU summit in Addis Ababa called for the expansion of the jurisdiction of the African Court Human Rights to deal with international crimes. The African oligarch whom Frantz Fanon referred to as agents of imperialism cannot bring the 21st Century change Africa needs. Those who suffer most from ill-designed economic institutions have the least power to affect change, whereas those having the power are least inclined to correct or even question a system which favors them.
Famous British writer, Holbrook Jackson, once stated that, ‘when in doubt, risk it.’ This certainly applies to the Kenyans facing alleged charges at The Hague. The leadership of Kenya has taken great risks in the face of uncertainty. Also, in one chapter of his book, “Interventions: A life in War and Peace,” former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, has written about the importance of peace. He states how the UN failed to protect the rights of ‘the peoples’ as laid out in the original chapter of the organization, written in 1945.

The Pan-African Union

The founding fathers had a grand idea and a dream of Pan-African Union and kept rowing upstream. But Africa stopped and fell behind. Certainly, Africa appears more divided today than it was fifty years ago. Current leaders don’t talk about Pan-Africanism, except when a state is faced with a leadership crisis that needs drastic measures and support from other member countries. The French and English involvement has contributed to this division. In fact the AU agenda-setting position has exposed political fault lines between English and French speaking Africa as well as between different geographic regions. The French-speaking West and Central African countries are on one side, and the East and Southern Africa on the other. Their policies are parallel to each other and have shown up divisions in the continent. The northern part of Africa has utterly been isolated by other African states, especially during the Arab Spring Revolution.

The International Criminal Court (ICC)

The AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia built thanks to Chinese assistance ©Iwacu

The AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia built thanks to Chinese assistance ©Iwacu

The African states joined the ICC eleven years ago where membership rose to 122 states. But the African block of 34 states wants to pull out. Nicola Machiavelli, in his playbook, wrote the amoral 16th century political treatise, ‘The Prince’ on ruthlessly acquiring power, as well as maintaining an iron-clad hold on it. He states that, ‘A man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.’ Thus, it seems right for Africa to pull out of the ICC but what would African leaders give as the reasons for the mass walk-out keeping in mind that the majority of African states have no cases at the ICC? Will that be a symbol of PanAfricanism? What will Africa do when it is faced with great judicial issues that would need international involvement? Will this bring forth African unity or only expose our divisions? Will Africa achieve its dream of becoming a United States of Africa?

The United States of Africa: a dream or reality?

A United States of Africa that will usher in political, economic and social unity that will promote progress and development with its varied opportunities continent-wide. Where Africa will elect a single President through a democratic ballot system and have an African House of Parliament. Where AU member countries will change to become States with elected Governors who will be independent and contribute to the Federal Government of the United States of Africa; being supreme to all States of Africa. Where US of Africa will help eliminate border barriers and make trade possible and cheaper thus enhancing economic growth, social life and technological development. Where the African continent will have a single universal currency and hope for better life of its citizens. It is time for Africa to decide if we should move forwards to rise or backwards to our downfall. It is our choice to make up our mind through right decisions at the African summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.