AS South African Development Community (SADC) heads of state and governments gather in the land of the organization’s origin, it’s high time they walk the talk of the continent forefathers towards African unity.
The meeting is converging in Tanzania, the land of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, where the origin idea to create SADC’s forerunner, the South African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), was taken in the country’s tourist city of Arusha, before its official launch in Lusaka, Zambia in 1980.
MwalimuNyerere strongly believed that African unity should start with regional integration, no wonder he championed, together with Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Seretse Khama of Botswana, the formation of the Front Line States (FLS) in 1974 to work together in a united front for common security and for majority rule in neighboring countries, under his chairmanship FLS paved way for establishment of SADCC.
To majority, if not all, delegates of the 39th SADC summit, Tanzania is the place of freedom pilgrimage, the moment they set their feet in the land of Serengeti and Ngorongoro they would wish to visit the sites where freedom fighters from their respective countries were hosted or trained, and perhaps say a word of appreciation for the hosting communities.
For those from South Africa the saying that “to vote South African in is to vote us out” will keep echoing in their mind and bring with them heroic memories. And possibly everyone will in her or his own way whisper a prayer for Mwalimu’s eternal peaceful rest, but the only pleasant thing the Father of African Liberation would wish to see, as the leaders of SADC mingle in the streets of Dar es Salaam, the former Head Quarters of the OAU Liberation committee is the coming true of his wish.
And here is his wish; “For Africa, the lesson of our East African experience is that although economic co-operation can go a long way without political integration, there comes a point when movement must be either forward or backward – forward into political decision or backward into reduced economic co – operation.”
And one should not forget that from their inception regional economic integrations were not the end in themselves, they were meant to be vehicles to take mother Africa to her destined destination, the All African union government.
Africans still recall with clarity the major debate between Kwame Nkrumah and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere on whether Africa should proceed step by step beginning with regional unity to continental. Mwalimu argued to start with regional integration while Nkrumah stood for immediate political unity. The current generation of leadership in Africa have to see to it that Africa is uniting for the good of her people.
As Mwalimu put it no matter how successful an integration might be, there are always limitations. Owing to her history SADC has to revive the second struggle for economic liberation, this should be her fundamental objective and would only be achieved if she stands out of the crowd to shout for African Unity. We have to learn to accept the harsh reality that for Africa to make remarkable development there is no third path; it’s either unity or perish.
The All African Union Government has been a half century long dream, the compulsion to break the colonial borders is even higher this time around than when the idea was first conceived. Africa has no more time to keep on dragging her foots towards unification. China and the West once again are turning Africa into the battle field for resources, “Scramble for African resources, through both economic and military means, is the fact of life of which our forefathers warned us.
We cannot withstand these on our own, alone. Without unity in Africa, we will once again become pawns in the chess game of big powers,” says Prof. Issa Shivji, the Director of Nyerere Resource Center. President John Magufuli determination to see to it that Tanzania is breaking the chains of economic bondage is the meaningful definition of what FLS through SADCC to the current SADC were established for. Political freedom was just a mean to realization of economic freedom.
With practically all resources in the world Africa will have no space in global economy if it keeps acting in fragmented individual states. “In fact, if Africa was one country in 2006, we would have been the 10th largest economy in the world!” says Dlamini Nkosazana Zuma the former Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission in her email from the future to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah supposed to written by her in 2063.
If all 55 African states keep competing to each other, it is difficult to drive a fair deal for Africa if China, for instance, negotiates with each individual country behind curtains, unity is the only way for Africa to leverage its competitive advantage. It’s appalling that not much is done to see the unification of Africa, regional initiatives were taken without lasting success up to the founding of the Organization of African Unity.
There have been a lot of empty rhetoric out there but none of them has come up with a palpable solution. During theOAU Golden Jubilee in 2013, African youth expressed their disappointment on the slowness shown by leaders towards African unity. Now that SADC leaders are meeting in the Land of Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa, where the Freedom Torch was lit to shine the country and across the borders to bring hope where there is despair, love where there is enmity and respect where there is hatred, have a duty to turn this vision into reality. Yes there has been many efforts towards this cause, and one of the promising initiative is Agenda - 2063.
AU member states crafted Agenda – 2063, a blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into to the global powerhouse by among other aspirations, integrating the continent and politically uniting it basing on the ideas of Pan – Africanism and the vision of African renaissance. Agenda 2063 envisages to see the launch of Confederation of Africa States by 2051.
But the realization of this wonderful vision might as well end up in a puff of smoke if debates that have overwhelmed the unification of Africa from the beginning are not put to an end. “We had long debates about the form that our unity should take: confederation, a united states, a federation or a union.” Narrates Dlamini referring to the deliberations that had prolonged the realization of African unity in her email from the future. Immediately after independence Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah had a provision for the full or partial surrender of their sovereignty to an all-African Union Government.
This kind of commitment is even more pressing today than it was during Nkrumah’s time. As the founding father of Ghana insisted; “No member state should, or can, be expected to surrender its sovereignty for any lesser cause.
History is made only by bold ventures and not by retreating in the face of difficulties.” Yes, SADC heads of state and governments meeting in Tanzania, the land of the man who carried the torch to liberate Africa, have to be this bold to move forward to political decision.