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The Importance of An African Union

Basil Enwegbara

Africans must be optimistic about a continental union. It is their common responsibility to realize a dream of a united Africa -- because leadership only succeeds when the people are ready and willing to press for success. African Union therefore remains an individual and collective effort, from activism and writing to interacting as members of one country. Africans all over the world must begin to see this challenge as the only way to reverse the trend that has suppressed them, exploited and looted their human and natural resources. Africans cannot expect to escape this truth unless they all put hands together, work together, and sacrifice together with the enthusiasm to build a new continent of which future generations will be proud.

But shouldn’t it be a difficult task, given the present global economic and political realities? There is no doubt it will, but that is the only option available to Africans if they want to free themselves from the current western exploitation of the continent, bearing in mind that those who benefit from the continent’s human and natural exploitation will not give up so quickly and so easily. This is because a united Africa will be feared to break this system of exploitation as well as challenge the historical basis for slavery and colonialism in Africa. It will also bring to an end the ongoing use of Africa as the dumping ground for western toxic waste; for using Africa as the experimentation ground for western diplomatic and foreign policies.

Do Africans really know that Africa has 770 million people -- which will make an African Union one of the biggest and most attractive markets in the world? Do they know that an African Union will be blessed with 40 percent of the world’s potential hydroelectric power supply? Have Africans realized that an African Union will have the bulk of the world’s diamond supply? Do they also know how that an African continental government will inherit over 90 percent of the world’s cobalt, 70 percent of its cocoa, 64 percent of its manganese, 60 percent of its coffee, and 50 percent of its palm oil? Do Africans recognize that they are the potential owners under a continental commonwealth of the 50 percent of the world’s phosphates, 50 percent of its gold production, 40 percent of its platinum, 30 percent of its uranium, and 20 percent of the total petroleum traded in the world market?

There is not another continent blessed with what Africa is blessed with, and that is why the scramble for African resources led to the two world wars, and if not for the activities of the World Bank and IMF acting as referee and the clearinghouse among the western invisible emperors in the contemporary scramble, African resources would have caused a third world war. But why can’t Africans realize that in order to continuously control and exploit African resources, the west has had to help prop up dictators, as well as ignite civil and inter-ethnic wars around the continent so that while African brothers fight each other, their resources are not only exploited but almost always looted?

Why can’t Africans come to terms with the reality of the anarchic systems of divide and conquer? Can’t they realize that even the 1992 Sierra Leone civil war that claimed over 10,000 lives, that displaced 300,000, that put 200,000 men, women and children in refugee camps, and that internally trapped over 400,000 people in a country of only 4.5 million people, was caused and perpetuated by some foreign countries, who wanted to share in the spoils of diamond and bauxite? Why can’t Africans realize that the same divide and conquer is what is happening in Angola with its 11.5 percent of the world’s known diamond deposits, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo’s diamond warfare? Or why should numerous African countries still engage in endless warfare even after decades of their so-called political independence?

Then, Africans must know that an African Union will not only make the wars and conflicts almost possible but also almost necessary. An African Defense Force (ADF), a Joint Standing Army, a Quick Responsive Police, all with the required expertise and logistics, multi-layered strategies and rapid mobilization, for example, will make Africans begin to live in peace, in tranquility, and in harmony. With Africa being peaceful and politically stable under a continental government, it would also mean that African leaders could then focus on how the real business of the people mapping out literally a new direction in areas of a continental foreign policy, a continental defense policy, a continental industrialization strategy, a continental economic and monetary policy, as well as a continental health policy, education policy, and agricultural policy.

Do Africans know that Africa, with its abundant natural resources, vast market and human capital (currently brain drained), can afford closing its borders to protect its infant industries and can then begin to build a new continental economy? Do they really know that the resources African Union will inherit will be so huge that a continental government can afford forcing several African natural resource cartels on the global market and get away with such a policy? More importantly, have Africans ever realized that an African Continental Congress as well as Continental President, will have such enormous power that they cannot be afraid to tell the entire world that either it takes the Union’s position on most global issues as they interest the continent, or Africa will not be involved?

Africans are yet to recognize the level of protection and pride they are bound to receive from such a powerful continental government; how else could they get away with their opinions anywhere in the world? The sacrifice must seem to be worth the price, so otherwise, Africans can’t get away from their present predicaments. They must now begin the journey, through a series of networks, conferences and workshops. This is their opportunity to achieve for themselves what George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin had achieved for the United States over 200 years ago.