Integration is something that we have grown accustomed to hearing. If it is not on the Common Market of Easter and the Southern Africa [COMESA] front, it is the Southern African Development Community [SADC] and the East African Community [EAC]. And we all know that one of Africa’s most important rulers at one time Colonel Muammar Ghadaffi believed in the unity of Africa, it was a dream that he never got to realize.
What we are not having is a discussion of if integration at all levels is actually feasible. Let us be real with ourselves as Africans: are we willing to do the work that makes this a reality? . In a continent where there are about 1500 – 2000 African languages, unity is going to be one not just long but interesting road. It may happen, it may not. It could be in our times or in our children, children’s times.
. The United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa [UNECA ] starts their summary on the state of integration in Africa by stating that the issue is and has been that “ many African leaders have been preoccupied with integration since the early years of independence. Many have viewed it as a tool for promoting economic growth and sustainable development and improving the living standards of the African people. The overall strategic objective of regrouping African countries was to fight the impact of colonialism and build a united Africa”.
Well, colonization, came and went: now we have new wave of colonization.For example: the kind that has been brought to us by China , or rather the kind that we have allowed to happen to us. And so, that no-longer stands, times have changed and we need to look at integration, it’s role and why we want or need it differently.
Another school of thought put this down in regard to integration:  “Globalization and world trade liberalization mean that Africa cannot ignore the requirements of the multilateral trading system while pursuing integration . . . African regional economic communities need to respond to changing global realities, preparing their member states to take advantage of the opportunities of global trade—including building the capacity to successfully conduct international negotiations (such as those within the WTO framework) and ensuring that they adequately reflect African interests and concerns.”
I don’t see this happening soon. The things that bring us together so far are sports, disease and war. Sports: when we hosted the World Cup as a continent for the first time, everyone was proud to be African. War – inevitably has been an issue that we mostly identify with. There are pats of Africa that have not seen peace in more than 50 years. Civil war after civil war, conflict after conflict and from the outside that is what creates a bond. Disease/epidemics; from HIV/AIDS and now to Ebola — we are all lamenting and praying and hoping that the supreme being over us will look down in mercy. We are united at that front. But not so much in the things that would actually bring us together.
What we have is our governments selling us short to China like the $5million deal between China and Kenya that according to specialists has more for Beijing than Nairobi .
The argument could go both ways depending on which side of the fence one is on.
Muammar Ghaddaffi, Kwame Nkurumah, Julius Nyerere : the man who said that Africa must run while the rest of the world walks, all had a dream. One that they were never able to accomplish. But the journey got started.
We all have diverse interests and reasons as to why we should integrate. From our policy leaders to any of the people that can affect the change; there is little knowledge of what could help move this continent forward. But I am very certain that our continent needs this and so do our children.
*This is a re-post modified. Author still the same*