President Uhuru Kenyatta attempted the impossible. He invited people from the East African Community to live in Kenya and enjoy the same rights Kenyans enjoy such as work, doing business, owning land and settling in Kenya among others. Such a talk, if were workable and realistic, is but revolutionary. Again, is it workable?
Where are the farms, if at all, most of fertile land in Kenya is owned by the Kenyattas, Mois and their cronies? Ndungu commission established to look into land grabbing in Kenya discovered; Kenyatta’s family sits on 15,000 km2 which is bigger than Jamaica or the Gambia. Is Kenyatta ready to relinquish this land? As for jobs, is there any job in a country grappling with unemployment not to mention tribalism? Who is intended in this empty-cum-grandstand? Will countries like Tanzania take a leaf from Kenyatta? Who is a loser and who is a gainer?
If Kenyatta is sincere and serious, he must first convince his counterparts to demolish the borders, relinquish their presidency and form one country known as the East African Country? I know as they know. The people of this region and Africa at large have always been ready to reunify Africa to the tune it was before the Berlin Conference 1884 that divided and partitioned Africa to end up forming feeble states we boast of having today. Demolish the borders. We know as they know. The obstacle for the reunification of Africa is nothing but presidency, narrow interests, greed, individualism and colonial carryover among others.
Essentially, Kenyatta’s dream can be actualised and realised through decolonising their countries by demolishing the borders and relinquishing their presidency; otherwise Kenyatta’s is but a pipedream.
Let’s look at the feasibility of Kenyatta’s assertion. Organically, before the criminal Berlin Conference 1884, Kenya, Tanzania and were united just like other African countries. People along modern borders used to operate freely without any disturbances, mistrusts and infringement on their natural freedom of movement. This is why Masai in Kenya and Tanzania still regard themselves as one country of Masailand not to mention the Swahili on Lunga lunga-Horohoro border and others on the borders.
Nonetheless, after Africa was divided and partitioned, there was born the modern weak states as colonial tools intended to divide, exploit and weaken Africans perpetually. Fortunately, in the 60s, African countries became independent; however divided. Sadly, these states have done nothing but furthering, internalising and reinforcing colonialism by maintaining colonial divisions under the Peace of Westphalia 1648 which created modern-time colonial sovereignty. However, some efforts were made to reunite Africa as championed by the likes of Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), Kwame Nkrumah and many more whose dream was felled by their successors due to myopia and individuality.
The East Africa embarked on the unification of the region giving birth to the East African Community (EAC I 1967-1977). Thanks to colonial carryovers, the intended goal remained out of reach under the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and later the African Unity (AU). Therefore, the move that EAC took was an antithesis and a challenge to the rest of Africa that refused to be reunited. However, there were other unions of federations such as Senegal-Gambia or Senegambia (1982-1989) and the Economic Commission of West African States (1975 to present) among notable ones. Again, are free movement, property ownership, and residence Kenyatta is espousing possible without addressing some hurdles and the very reasons why the EAC and Africa is divided? I think, the East Africa and African in general must shake off colonial hangovers; and thereby embark on true reunification of the region and the continent. Let us look at how the above proposed rights can be actualised.
First, reunifying the region means returning back to its natural formula which gave it the edge and clout of living without necessarily depending on handouts from rich country as it currently is after being colonised in the 18th Century; thereby ushering in dependency, exploitation, miseries and imperialism that saw Africa become the backyard of the world.
Secondly, practical reunification of region will create many economic, political and social opportunities such as interdependence, interconnectedness and unity as the tools of strength and respectability internationally. Africans inevitably and out of necessity need each other even if they do not like each other.
Thirdly, the reunification of the region will enable it to assert its power globally not to mention increasing security and good use of resources. Reunited EAC and Africa will not have the many do-nothing and despotic presidents who, in the sense, are but black colonisers or the agents of colonialism that are responsible for exploiting Africa.
Fourth, thanks to neocoloniality, many African countries are at home with doing business with foreigner as they shy away from their neighbours. Again, Swahili sage has it that you can choose a friend[s] but not a neighbour[s]. This means that our interconnectedness is organic and inevitable; whether we like it or not.
Fifth, the reunification of the region will increase production as the motivation by which Africa will grow economically due to the fact that, instead of importing goods from afar, Africa will have an internal supply of some goods it imports from abroad. So, too, it’ll cut the cost of running business and production and avert environmental degradation from the machinery used to transport goods so as to enhance good prices for the products produced and traded within the EAC. Currently, some countries import onions from the EU. In January and February 2011, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Mauritania ‘purchased more Dutch onions than 2010 while in 2009, 42% of Dutch onion exports to West Africa went to Senegal, 22% to Côte d’Ivoire and 13% to Mauritania (Agritrade 2011) This is shameful and surreal for Africa in general. Why importing food and on top of industrial product as if Africa is a barren?
In a nutshell, the major question Africa needs to ask and rightly answer is: Why has African become a food importer while it used to feed itself before colonialism was introduced to Africa? There are those who dubiously say that the population of Africa has grown exponentially due to improved health services colonialism started. This is totally erroneous and disingenuous. One may query why Africa’s able to produce healthy persons who were taken to the Americas as slaves if at all it didn’t have a very sound health system before colonial. Africa needs to reunite and stop crying like a baby while it’s what it takes as it used to be.
Source: Citizen, Wed., today.