The biggest problem of Africa’s integration is a psychological one. Learning to think as an African first and foremost, and not as for instance a Nigerian, or even a West African, should be an aspect of the African character. And this will be tough. For instance, as far back as the year 2000, it is of note that the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, made several moves towards that integration, and one of such steps was at the Organization of African Unity (OAU) conference in the summer of that year at the Togolese capital in Lome. His idea was that the OAU should be replaced by the African Union (AU) and modeled along the lines of the European Union.
There was agreement that in order to compete in a tough global environment, Africa needed to create its own strong institutions, including owning a single currency named the ‘Afro’. His vision which comprised notable but realistic concepts and ideas were the themes of his book ‘My Vision’. They were nonetheless grand in the extreme.
His proposals were soon tagged self-ambitious and basically remained unedited till his death. At that point, leaders from various quarters had different vantages, and western influence was not discarded as a possible factor in the eventual obliteration of that vision.
Because for the most part Africa could and does not think for itself, it was easier to pitch them against each other.
A lot of citations were brought into the squabble at that point, especially when it was agreed that the AU was to allocate the Central Bank to West Africa, the Court of Justice to East Africa and the Investment Bank to North Africa, but many were of the opinion that these ideas were unrealistic. And like I said, there were forces at work.
The African psychology has been wired after years of slavery and colonization to be largely dependent on Europe and the West, with the willingness to constantly compromise its stance on the basis that it is incapable of making informed and realistic decisions without some form of external influence.
To the West, Gaddafi was a threat, and so were his ideologies. Capitalizing on this African psychological deficiency, African politicians were lobbied to strangle the Gaddafi visions, in exchange for some paltry and temporary favors. This brings us to corruption.
Corruption in Africa has been encouraged by Europe and the West as a tool with which African treasuries are been siphoned and carted away to foreign accounts. One must look at who benefits here. Thus African leaders are being enthroned (and if uncooperative, dethroned) to favor Western foreign policies, among which is resource control. So, basically, corruption can never be eradicated because African political psychology has been modeled to abhor African integration, general concern, and fundamental human rights.
If these were considered, then it will dawn on African politicians that every single person within their constituency deserves the basic things in life within his or her country, including a country’s national heritage. But few dare to be concerned to make a difference. Meanwhile, Western political actors take advantage of this gulf in integration to rip off the continent.
With its vast resources, Africa does not boast of quality health, educational and technological advances because neocolonialism has always been around. One can as well say we are still being colonized via what the British called ‘indirect rule’. This was what Gaddafi tried to correct. The Libyan strongman may be gone, but his extensive scope, visions, and ideologies would be worth revisiting if Africa truly longs for its emancipation.
Okechukwu C. Ezechi is the author of SID – Dark Days & AGENT BLACK – 1966.
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