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Is United States of Africa an illusion

Nick Mangwana Correspondent I JUST read that Morocco was thrown out of the Nations Cup. It is said that they were seeking to postpone the t...

Nick Mangwana Correspondent
I JUST read that Morocco was thrown out of the Nations Cup. It is said that they were seeking to postpone the tournament on worries that Black Africans would bring in Ebola! That certainly just spoiled my mood.

Many a time we hear the phrase Sub-Saharan Africa, or Africa South of the Sahara. One wonders what is the difference between these two regions divided by the Sahara Desert?

There is nothing wrong with geographical demarcations as long as they are not turned into functional demarcations fragmenting the African spirit.

I remember sharing a seat on a plane with an Arab-looking gentleman a few years ago. We engaged in some conversation.

Due to my obvious accent he asked where I was from and I said I was from Zimbabwe. I reciprocated the question by asking him whether he was from Africa as well.

His answer was, “No. I am North African”. My heart sank. I responded that North Africa was as much in Africa as was Zimbabwe. He simply said that we were different.

He then pretended to sleep therefore instantly terminating the conversation. Good riddance! I didn’t want to continue with it anyway.
 Is United States of Africa an illusion
In line with the same thought process, in 2008 when Egypt won the Nations Cup against Cameroon there were headlines that screamed that Egypt had conquered the Africans! Really?

These three cases would probably make one feel some level of antipathy towards our fellow Africans from Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt Libya, Algeria and a few of their neighbours such as Sudan.

It is only when one thinks of Brother Leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi that one stops in their tracks. Surely, no one was more African than him.

The martyred Brother Leader financed many African Liberation Movements including our own. Nelson Mandela showed him the ultimate honour by naming his grandson Gaddafi (Sadly it was South Africa that was hoodwinked in that infamous UN Security Council Resolution 1973 that has now resulted in a very unstable Libya). He was the major financier of the African Union as Libya paid 15 percent of the whole AU budget.

Gaddafi always envisioned a “United States of Africa” as a counter force to both the EU and the USA. He believed in African Nationhood and did not distinguish our people by the geographical location of the desert or the brownness of their skin or the floppiness or kinkiness of their hair.

With him if you were from Africa, you were an African. He even considered the disappointing President Obama a son of the continent. I know some of us believe the Western caricature of the man.

Well, we know how much certain people make an industry of lampooning African icons.

Vexatious attitudes as displayed by the Moroccan authorities make the achievement of the Gaddafi’s dream a remote and Utopian fantasy.

Regional integration has been deterred by this type of snobbery where certain nations have felt they are better than others. Real African Union can only be achieved under the premises of equality of nations.

When some African countries feel more Arab or Western or they highlight the developmental disparities among us then the notion of a United States of Africa will just remain a fanciful delusion of grandeur.

A better driven unity of purpose is needed. So far this has only been shown when it comes to thwarting the lop-sided and race driven Hague prosecutions. Maybe there is more solidarity in self-preservation.

Or we shouldn’t call it solidarity at all. Why not just call it self-preservation? Since the demise of the Colonel the only major Pan-Africanist of the same realm remaining is the AU’s current Vice Chairman President Mugabe. I am trying to think of another but am really struggling.

This is because we now appear more divided than we were on May 25 1963. Then, the continent resolved that those that had attained independence were never totally free until the last vestiges of colonialism had been eradicated from the mother continent.

We then prevailed against the artificial selfish partitions that emerged from the Berlin Conference of 1884. With South Africa’s democratic elections in 1994 the last bastion of white supremacist prejudice on the continent was mowed down.

How then after conquering such superior forces in unity we focus on the sub-regional chasms? Wouldn’t it have been more progressive for the continent to pour its resources in eradicating Ebola than relying on the same domineering Western powers to take the lead?

When using Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Morocco is in the top five of the richest countries in Africa.

Granted an outbreak of Ebola would have adversely affected it economically as tourism is an industry. Would it still not have been more benevolent to aid the fight against Ebola and still host the Nations Cup?

It is not only Morocco’s responsibility but Morocco is used here to illustrate that which is going wrong with Pan-Africanism. Africa needs its relevance in geo-politics. But how can it ever assert itself when these little prejudices prevail against reason?

Surely this will remain a pipe dream if there is this internal segregation and national snobbery.

One needs go back just a few years ago when xenophobia was not only a big word but became a buzz word.

Foreigners from other African countries were lynched and murdered in South Africa. Ironically, the allegations are that this was done by the very people that bore the brunt of apartheid’s discrimination and bigotry. One would have thought that they would have known better from when the boot was on the other foot.

Surprisingly in both South Africa and Botswana there is a pejorative term called Makwerekwere.

I am told it denotes that when foreigners speak in their mother tongues they sound incoherent and illogical. How condescending!

Where is the African solidarity in all this? That which divides us like language and culture should bolster us as we become a union of diversity.

And diversity being able to think independently, together. How can we even dream of having a permanent seat in the UN Security Council when it takes those Western powers to remind us that we have girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria?

They are sending their intelligence assets on our continent under the guise of humanitarianism. We allow this foreign intrusion because we have never capacitated ourselves enough to provide African solutions to all African problems.

This just debunks our so-called fight against foreign domination. It makes a mockery of the very spirit of Pan-Africanism when a whole continent’s leadership is summoned like little boys to the White House by Barack Obama, and goes running like puppies to milk.

Here I am referring to the US-Africa Summit. Why didn’t the one person (President Obama) travel to Africa rather than have nearly 50 of our heads of state travel to the US? One cannot help but infer a very patronising disposition.

What would have happened if all these heads of state had said, “No Mr Obama, get on Air Force 1 and see you in Addis . . .”?

I wonder if the near 50 had the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Jomo Kenyatta, Haile Selassie, Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere, and Kenneth Kaunda in concert with Robert Mugabe; what the approach and outcome would have been.

We are not calling for narcissistic self-aggrandisement by our leaders.

We are not calling for a confrontation with the West either. We are just saying as we are dealing with this new scramble to pillage African resources that has just ensued, we need more harmony and confederation as a continent.

But that can never be achieved when some African countries still believe that they are better than others. When problems like Ebola are being used for stereotyping and stigmatisation within Africa itself.

When we lack a collective purpose and common position on continental issues, then the United States of Africa would remain an ideal that died with the demise of Col Gaddafi, or a virtue whose last apostle would be Robert Mugabe.

Nick Mangwana is the Zanu-PF UK Chairman.
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