Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Why AU needs to be decolonised

Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat, the new chairperson of the African Union Commission, at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 31, 2017. PHOTO | ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER | AFP
            The just-ended conference of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, once again exhumed Africa’s endemic glitches revolving around the colonial dregs.
            This was displayed during the election of the AU Commission’s new chairperson. Seven candidates battled it out for the position, including Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary, Ms Amina Mohamed, and Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, who carried the day after some horse trading, threw Ms Mohamed out.
            The Nation reported that Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda were to blame for Ms Mohamed’s defeat, not to mention Tanzania that abstained with other members of South African Development Community (Sadc).
            Essentially, this two-horse race epitomised Africa’s colonial past and present revolving around the obscurities of its former colonial masters, mainly Britain and France.
            Despite priding themselves about being free and independent, the African countries in these two blocs still vote along colonial lines. Those whom French colonial monsters ruled will vote for any francophone candidate, while those who were under the British also go for an anglo candidate.
            Since 2002, francophone Africa has produced four out of the five AUC chairpersons. Apart from voting along colonial and linguistic lines, African countries, under their union umbrella, still use colonial languages in their business.
            Prof Ali Mazrui was once jeered at and scorned in 1964, when he proposed Swahili to be used as the language of the defunct Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The AU is not an emancipatory organ for Africa. It is an embodiment of colonial extension.
            The AU’s treaty stipulates clearly that it must treat the sovereignty of member states as sacrosanct. It also states that there must be a “general recognition of the exclusive sovereignty of each party over its lands, people, and agents abroad, and each and several responsibility for the warlike acts of any of its citizens or agents.”
            This acts as a stumbling block for the total reunification or unification of Africa. The way the AU vote is the exegesis, if not a replica, of how Africa is still pregnant with toxic colonial legacies.
            You wonder why Burundi would vote against a candidate from the East African Community simply because it is francophone. Djibouti is purely Arabic, while Uganda is despotic just like Burundi and Chad, which they fully supported.
            Did Burundi revenge against Kenya for its opposition during the waiting time for joining the EAC? Kenya and Tanzania opposed the speedy admission of Burundi and Rwanda that Uganda had proposed. Tanzania, a Sadc member, abstained.
             What does this say about the EAC? Was it a display of hidden antipathy between the intra-rifts of the EAC, namely the Coalition of the Willing (CoW) and the Burundi-DRC-Tanzania Community (BDTC) that seem to still simmer despite being pushed under the carpet? Arguably, for a true pan-Africanist, what transpired in Addis shows the artificiality of the EAC and the division of Africa, in general.
            Yes, the friend in need is the friend indeed. Ms Mohamed’s defeat is the loss of the EAC, given that her victory would not only have been beneficial to Kenya, but also the EAC.  
            Another colonial legacy that displays how toxic African countries are can be seen in the regional groupings. The 15 countries from the southern Africa bloc, Sadc, abstained and made Mr Mahamat’s victory easy.
            Apart from Angola and Mozambique, the rest are anglophone countries but they didn’t vote. However, doing so was like voting for Mr Mahamat as it denied Ms Mohamed the votes she deserved.
            One may argue that the Sadc members felt they had nothing to lose given that one of their own, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma was just relinquishing the post. Again, many will recall that francophone countries backed Gabonese Jean Ping, whom Dr Dlamini-Zuma defeated after being supported by all the anglophone countries. 
            You wonder why the Sadc members decided to abstain instead of voting for Ms Mohamed. What a betrayal and a divisive stance for Africa!
Looking at how fractured Africa is, it needs to be decolonised and detoxified in order to unite instead of operating along colonial lines.
            Going on like this is nothing but internalising and reinforcing colonialism and the victims are the African countries themselves.
Source: Daily Nation Kenya, February 1, 2017.

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