Wednesday, 2 January 2008

East African Union: Is It Rulers or Citizenry’s Outfit?

Though the three Presidents of East African countries have confidently assured themselves of soliciting a milestone by fast tracking East African Union and legalizing the membership to Burundi and Rwanda, it still remains to be seen if the said union will swiftly thrive and work in the minds and hearts of people of the region.

Generally we, people of East Africa, Tanzanians in particular, still feel that we be ought to be given our constitutional right to agree or disagree with this union, partnership, federation or whatever it may be called. Without being accorded this very right, we will still voice our opposition over the bid to sideline and ignore us as the case is now.

Currently in Tanzania, the authorities are spending much money and time in order to put us in the picture. The ministry responsible for East African affairs abused our hard earned money on soliciting our opinions as if they are going to be worked on! When and how will our opinions be accommodated if at all the whole basics have already been agreed upon? Many questions still beg answers. The prime one being; why are we being ignored? The answer to this question will stop Tanzanians’ worries about this union which seems to be an already done deal.

Tanzanians have acquired much experience from the current gasping union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar which was entered in 1964. Frankly speaking, the said union -for over four decades- has been yet another hot potato and a model altogether depending on how one looks at it.

It has spent much money and time so as to be regarded as a burden on the one hand whilst a pearl on the other. Again this depends on how one benefits from it.

It is under the strength of this reason Tanzanians are skeptical of the EAU or EAF -especially the fast tracked and superimposed one. Do our rulers know this? Do they know that we badly need a union but not the one reached at without our consent? It must be clearly accepted and deeply understood: rulers are but seasonal bearers of offices contrary to the citizenry who permanently own the offices the rulers call theirs. So who should listen to whom as far as making decision on this matter is concerned?

Again, there is this debacle-cum ambiguity of bringing Burundi and Rwanda into the fold. The duos have their traditional problems which need to be sorted out. I am not complaining. But it is obvious: the whole charade is wastage of time, money and rights. Even a little ant knows what goes around it.

We too still holler and plead: we are not included in the making of the union of theirs that they arrogantly call ours. This inevitable and incorruptible question will always linger and hover shall we not be accorded our right to decide our destiny.

In his book, "Good to Great", Jim Collins said: however good a thing is, whatever the authorities embark on, to succeed, freedom and sense of being part of is imminent. I too feel the same. For whatever system on earth to succeed and move swiftly not to end up a cropper, the stakeholders (The citizenry) must be part of it and feel it; they are the movers and shakers of it.

Well, do the people of East Africa especially Tanzanians feel the same? Do they really feel the union or federation is truly theirs? I can not put words in their mouths. But again, as one of them, I still feel otherwise.

If one carefully looks at the developed and established unions we like to ape such as EU, one will find that the secret behind their success lies on the full participation of the citizenry. Let us allow our people to be players of their union instead of spectators.

Lawyers have it that when anything is done illegally, however right that thing is, it is illegal ab initio. Shall we reject this hara-kiri holus bolus, do we deserve to be branded xenophobic, myopic and doom-sayers?

Look at this dominnum mundi by Yoweri Museveni. Questions have already been registered as to why he believes he will become the first President of East Africa. Does this mean that the three rulers have already gone a mile ahead to choose one of them to rule us?

People still need to know how their resources will be shared. Though we are told that our economies will perform miraculously as the population of 120 million means a huge business, we still take it as a mere wish washy kind of contention. Nigeria has the same population plus oil on top, yet she is still poorer. In essence, the people is the resource every country has for granted. Even people become a factor depending on the type of people. Switzerland has the population of about five million yet it is highly developed. Come to our destitute and traumatized people. Even if they are a billion, shall the current exploitative world order remain the same, they will still remain poor.

Another school of thought propounded by Kenya is that, East Africa will make a very big market. Who will benefit? China, India, Britain (which almost owns all factories Kenya boasts of )and Singapore .

Those who want us to ape EU, must put in consideration that the said EU is now over fifty years old and yet it is not done. Countries which bear scars such as Turkey are still under probation. Contrary to ours, Burundi and Rwanda have been scrutinized within a week and given green light! Who’s fooling who?

Though we badly need a union, our rulers should allow us to make it. Shall they cling unto ignoring and sidelining us, welcome yet another Titanic. Do you know what demised the former EAC? Come on guys, stop day-dreaming.

Is Africa sacrificial lamb?

Two things have forced me to write this article. The first one is noise that Africa is at her graveyard as far as everything noble is concerned. The second is maltreating of Africa by the so-called civilized-cum-developed world. Every media you come across paints a spooky, creepy and gloomy picture of Africa! Nothing worth can come from Africa in their eyes.

The year 2007 marked the bicentenary anniversary of "The abolition" of slave trade. In London, all credit went to conspirators such as William Wilberforce, Henry Morton Stanley, Dr. Livingstone and his gang for "abolishing’ slavery they created. No African was mentioned! African guys who heroically resisted the brutality they were facing were not mentioned, let alone acknowledged!

Was slave trade abolished on humanitarian grounds as we are hoodwinked to believe, or phased out by the discovery of machines which took over from slaves? We must go back to the drawing board and re-write our misconstrued and mis-presented history as it was feloniously concocted by the West and pull down from our streets and towns all banners praising our tormentors. I saw the Queen of England shamelessly lay a very tiny wreath on the slave memorial square as if those who suffered and died in manacles were preemies! Shame on her!

Africa, like a sitting-duck facing a hungry jackal, does not mount any defense! Hers always has been fight-for-today-tomorrow-god-knows stance! Rulers and "ruiners" are busy in European capitals cup in hand begging to "solve" present problems of poverty, hunger, phobia and what not! Wake up guys.

It is true that poverty in Africa is astronomically ascending. Should we blame all this on the West? Why, when our workers are no longer working effectively for lack of motivation?

While we’re walking thumps up celebrating our pseudo-independence. Africa is supersonically cascading to the duo though in a different manner and banner. Is Africa really free? This needs an independent article to show this schism existing between true and fake freedom.

A few weeks ago, I was confronted by immigrants from Liberia who have been in Canada for four years now. When they left Africa, they were assured that their family members they left behind would join them within six months thereafter. Take it from me. Some are still painstakingly waiting for their loved ones ever since! For those who were re-united, visa processing took more than a year! Why? Because nothing good can come out of Africa except minerals and slaves! I went to a frustrated Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), to find that it is only in Africa where a Canadian visa takes up to three or four years to process for family re-unification! Why? Again because it is Africa!

When I discovered this, I asked myself if these are the same people who were condemning apartheid in South Africa and corruption on our governments while they are practicing the same at home!

If Africa attempts to reciprocate equally, you will hear rants and raves of threats that our economies will be doomed and that tourists won’t come. The guys are richer than us but we are kinder and more generous than them. Although we easily allow people in our countries, other guys out there are giving us a raw deal.

How many Western-installed corrupt governments do we have in Africa? Are they condemned when the loot is sent to the West? Hell no. How can they condemn their messengers of death for us who are their tools of wealth? Should visas be delayed for westerners, you would hear noises about violation of human rights and other nonsensical things. International Human Rights are not for poor beings in the so-called poor countries.

On the bicentenary anniversary of the hocus pocus abolition of slave trade, many Africans were asking and demanding for an apology which even Tony Blair-the then UK Premier- refused to utter. But does apology help anything?

Africa is a sacrificial lamb which unfortunately has lost the ability to make noises for equality and respect of human rights. We are currently busy vending the souls and toils of our already poverty stricken wretch of the world. We need our Grandels to fight the monsters like in Higlac. While this purge is going on, billions of dollars from our resources are siphoned to the West. Multinationals and corrupt African cohorts are stashing as many billions as they please!

Who will defend Africa under these new isms of globalization, privatization and pseudo democratization? Well if anything, Africa is but a sacrificial lamb.

By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He is a Journalist, Teacher, Human Rights activist and member of the Writers' Alliance of New Found land and Labrador (WANL)

Source: The African Executive No. 141 of January 2, 2008 and The Citizen.

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