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The African Union (AU) at 54 today has long come of age. Were it to be human it would have been inching towards retiring from active public service as it were.
It is not human but an institution established to get to a destination where our Africanness would put us in a good stead to manage ourselves sufficiently enough to wean ourselves off handouts, loans and other forms of humiliating support.
In 1963 when the forebear of the AU – the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – was set up, the founding fathers would have betted that in fifty years from that year the unity which they longed for would have been achieved with the continent becoming a seamless geo-political entity.
We have not reached that bridge yet, let alone traversing it. At best, we are managing our regional or sub-regional blocs where progress is staggering.
As pointed out earlier, the total liberation of Africa might have been achieved, not yet though the economic freedom which is a critical ingredient for our continental unity.
Progress is at a tortoise-pace and sometimes none at all. Some benefits of the short distance we have covered cannot be overlooked, even though these are too miniscule against the backdrop of the quantum of efforts exerted so far.
Strife and bad governance continue to hamper our progress. A few months ago, the Gambia was close to the brink because a dictator who had lost an election was staying put at his desk as though the country of so many poor citizens was a fiefdom. Countries which moved troops to the small West African country had started counting the cost of the intervention when it appeared the dictator had dug in and was nowhere leaving as he was asked to do.
The non-interference clause in the affairs of our neighbours’ continues to constitute a stumbling block in our ability to intervene when bad governance turns disastrous, although we eventually breach this when matters get to a head.
At a time we should be thinking about how to move our countries forward through the application of modern trends in political and economic management, we are busy engaging in how to ensure successful elections which we invariably fail to achieve anyway. That is how bad things have become.
With vast lands at their disposal, African countries continue to import large volumes of food from the other hemisphere – a situation which does not inure to our interests.
The benefits of unification which were what spurred on the founding fathers to work for the creation of the continental body, if they must visit us, would require a paradigm shift in the way we do things.
We must show visible commitment to the cause of this unity and move the quest from the realm of rhetoric and conference repetitive talks to action.
Today an Egyptian or Ethiopian feels like a total alien in another African country – a reality which the founding fathers sought to eliminate. We must move beyond where we were twenty years ago, and even today, to another level. That would be the best tribute to pay the founding fathers of the AU. For now a large chunk of the contents of the kitty of the AU goes into managing strife and other avoidable challenges.
In spite of the drawbacks and seeming stagnation in the efforts towards unification, we are better off with the barking bulldog as we pray for a better future.
Happy AU Day Africans!
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