The Ninth Ordinary Summit of the African Union is in the history books following its conclusion in the Ghanaian capital, Accra. But some Africans are still feeling betrayed over the leaders’ failure to form a United States of Africa. In their final communiqué African leaders agreed to speed up the economic and political integration of the continent to pursue the goal of a United States of Africa.
Some say the Accra agreement was a face-saving compromise between those leaders who wanted to set up a continental African government immediately and those who favored a more gradual approach.
Mwalimu George Ngwane is a Pan-Africanist and executive director of AFRICAphonie, a Cameroon-based civil society organization. He told VOA he is disappointed with the outcome of the Accra summit.
“I was more disappointed with the block that still talks of regional economic communities being fully integrated before they could proceed to the organic or holistic structure called the United States of Africa, especially when we know that for the last 40 years, that same argument has branded around by most of the African states saying that until integration is done at regional level, there would be no holistic or continental integration,” he said.
However, Ngwane said he was happy for the fact that African leaders have established a committee to study the implications of the creation of a United States of Africa. That committee is expected to report to the next African Union summit which would be held in January 2008.
Ngwane said the most important thing about the Accra summit is not whether there was a winner between those leaders who wanted to set up a continental African government immediately and those who favored a more gradual approach.
“The most important thing is that we had opportunity of the heads of state sharing their views on this issue. In terms of numerical strength, it would be easy for one to say it was those who thought that we should take a step-by-step approach, which is a gradualist approach, which actually was the kind of result we had that led to the creation of the OAU (Organization of African Unity) in 1963,” Ngwane said.
But he said those leaders who wanted a gradualist approach about integration are still living in what he called a fools’ paradise.
“They are living in their own little world that is full of parochialism, that is full of insecurity, that is full of unnecessary ego-bloated ambition because like I said a while ago, if for 40 years we have not succeeded in using the regional economic communities as building blocks, how many more years do we need again before we can attain the United States of Africa?” he said.
Ngwane said by their failure to reach an agreement, African leaders have set the debate of a united Africa another 40 years back in time. He said the leaders have betrayed their own citizens.
“I must say again that it is a sheer hypocrisy to know that (President) Thabo Mbeki who has been the father of African Renaissance, in whose country we had the opportunity of launching the African Union in 2002 should be in this kind of argument; it’s sheer hypocrisy to find that Uganda whose president has been talking about Bantuphone (an imagined economic market comprising both Anglophone and Francophone countries) should also be in this group; it’s sheer hypocrisy to know that Nigeria that has such a wide population should also be in this kind of argument about gradualist integration,” Ngwane said.
He said the African leaders might have rejected forming an integrated African government immediately because of what he called Kadhafi phobia.
“I have a feeling there was this Kadhafi phobia that seems to have been branded around by the heads of state. It’s something that you can should rule out. But they should all understand that African unity did not begin with Kadhafi. We are talking about 107 years of Pan-Africanism and the search for African unity. This is from 1900. So I have a feeling that lots of them were actually playing into the hands of this Eurocentric discourse that says because it is Kadhafi who is not so much loved by the West, then there must be something hidden about him,” Ngwane said.