The African Union formerly known as The Organization of African Unity celebrated her fiftieth yesterday, with leaders and rulers of African countries in attendance at the building (donated by the Chinese) in Addis Ababa to grace the occasion.
Indeed, Africa can bè said to have come a long way, from being the birthplace of mankind, to its cradle of civilization, to slavery, to colonialism, to neocolonialism, to corruption, hunger, starvation and socio-econo-political instability to a semblance of democracy, economic growth and a rebirth not necessarily driven by government policy but majorly by a reorientation of minds by the people.
Over the years, Africa has been the puppet of the world, economically, socially, religiously and even politically. Everyone else in the world became an expert on solving Africa’s problems. Problems initiated by them unfortunately.
In our famed receptiveness, not only did we welcome our visitors but their ways to the detriment of all that we should hold dear. Those Africa trusted to lead them connived with foreign powers to further enslave and impoverish her.
Even though some progress has been made, this isn’t time for celebrations for it isn’t yet Uhuru. This is a time rather for introspection and sober reflections as to whether the dreams and visions of the founding fathers have in any way been met (to which a resounding ‘NO’ will now bè most appropriate).
The gains made in installing democratic governments have in recent times suffered a setback in countries like the Central African Republic and Mali. In other countries democracy is one party rule headed by a ‘Life’ Presidency, while others seek to perpetrate their kin after their demise as Omar Bongo succeeded in doing in Gabon but Abdoulaye Wade failed to do in Senegal. Zimbabwe must have succeeded in forcing Mugabe’s hand to approve new constitutions that allow for term limits but unfortunately he’s allowed to run and seek re-election into office if he so desires after a first term of five years.
The above indicate a few of the anomalies in practice in Africa’s democracy.
Corruption remain endemic and would require a book of encyclopaedic proportions to detail it’s effect on the life and psyche of Africans.
The AU should now seek and focus on an African rebirth and with help of genuine partners worldwide work to set it on a path of self reliance and progress.
Like the EU, strict guidelines should bè given to maintain membership status, such that countries who fall below accepted standards are stripped of membership and the benefits accruing thereof. These guidelines should stipulate democratic principles, policies that encourage openness and transparency, human rights protection amongst others.
Africa will know when she gets to Uhuru, but till then the champagne should remain iced.