The idea of a super African government for a United States of Africa, as contemplated by our continent’s leaders at the just ended African Union Summit in Accra Ghana, does not wash at this stage. Our leaders have to understand that the mandate bestowed on them to rule does not necessarily translate into a licence to engage in wholesale transformation, especially when such transformation appears suspect, mystical and ill thought. It is highly likely that many of the leaders who are trying to fast track the idea of a federal continental government have no clue about how such government would function (no word about its shape and form) let alone the implications except to try and imitate situations elsewhere. What they forget is that Africa is not Europe or America. What works in Europe or America may not necessarily work here or may work differently. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana and pioneer of an African continental government, had an idea (however less refined) about how a continental government would work, being the great thinker that he was. Somewhat he conceptualized and defined the modus operandi of the African government. Nkrumah wrote books and other literature about his thoughts and this initiated a debate around this issue and other contemporary issues. When Nkrumah espoused the idea of a continental government, the rallying point was freedom and independence. Nkrumah dreamt of a strong, free and independent Africa to counter the political and economic influence of the two blocs that were engaged in a cold war. The call for freedom and independence was a unifying and rallying point for all Africa to stand together and form a continental government for self-preservation. Africa needs to rediscover and redefine the same. The current crop of leaders have little understanding of what they are talking about since there are few Kwame Nkrumahs, if any at all, among them. If there were, they would have had the courage like Nkrumah to put their ideas on paper and articulate them publicly. In addition, things have changed so much in Africa and the world that the formation of a union government would have to take into account, if it is to remain relevant. This is not to say that a continental government cannot work. Far from it. But for such government to be established, Africa has to set benchmarks for itself and meet certain stringent conditions. Forming an African union government now would be unrealistic, unreasonable and even foolish. Nkrumah was right with his – seek ye the political kingdom first. Africa’s next priority now is to raise its economic stakes through integration and development. It has to deal with the tough issues of good governance and peace before building continental castles in the air. How can Africa form a single federal government at this stage when in Sudan’s Darfur region, Africans of Arab and Bantu extract cannot live together in harmony and peace, in Somalia, Chad and the list goes on? Africa is still very much Anglophone, Franco-phone, Lusaphone and Arabic to be able to successfully establish a single federal government for the continent and these are some of the challenges that our leaders have to address before taking the long leap into a continental super structure. This also brings in the question, for whose interests are some leaders pushing for hasty continental unity, even when it is apparent that as currently constituted, some of the AU institutions that are supposed to prop up the union government are African in name only, with others existing only on paper. Once these jigsaw puzzles are filled, every thing else will fall in place. Africa is not ready for a continental government. Unity yes, but not a hasty arrangement that smacks of poor conceptualization. The AU and our leaders should never settle for piece-meal and ill-thought ideas for expediency’s sake. A United States of Africa is perhaps attainable as a long term goal but before that, we need to engage think tanks and scholars to unpack the idea. We need a blueprint, a master business plan, if you like, arising out of a feasibility study that connects all the dots.
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