The accidental ecowas citizen for8aug2012

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Information about The accidental ecowas citizen for8aug2012
News & Politics

Published on February 26, 2014

Author: ekbensah


“The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen”: When the African Integration Revolution is Televised (3), and revising Cameron Duodu’s article By E.K.Bensah Jr Back in early March 2011, in the quiet corridors of the Institute of Peace and Security Studies—located at Addis Ababa University’s Faculty of Business Administration—my only link to Ghana remained not in the company of non-existent Ghanaian students there, but through numerous websites many Ghanaians outside the country have become viscerally-accustomed to checking. Of note was, where I would chance upon an article by one Dr.Michael J K Bokor, who penned an article entitled “Libya Exposes the African Union”. It was perhaps one of the most Afro-pessimist pieces I have read. There were three points that were striking: first, “The AU lacks the mechanism to be proactive and has failed. Its existence is not warranted”; second: “The AU is nothing but a forum for idling by questionable characters who meet and compare notes on their mismanagement of affairs. The AU itself is a problem that Africans have to solve first”; and finally: “Once again, the AU has led Africans to come across as people incapable of solving their own problems. How will we ever be respected if we continue to portray ourselves as "the white man's burden". I would immediately write a short riposte of his article on my AU blog ( days, the BBC Worldservice would contact me to appear on the “Africa Have your Say” programme—which I gladly complied with. Through the troughs and peaks of criticism of the AU as an institution comprising corrupt African policy-makers that, for example, just sat and drank tea at meetings, I tried my level-best to come out with a strong defence that acknowledge the weaknesses of the AU in communicating itself, but the need to also remember how far it had come in its then-nice years of existence. It would only be a few days later that one of the staff at the university working on the Africa Union peace and security programme—for which I was obtaining capacity-building on— would inform me that just down the road at the AU, they had voted the Peace and Security Council as the most powerful organ of the AU. This is the kind of information I was hoping to read in the Cameron Duodu’s “From OAU to AU” which I touched on last week. Truth be told, it is an interesting piece that offers more of an insight into how truly the AU is perceived than anything. But the fact that someone like Duodu, who generally extols the virtue of all things-African, wrote a surprisingly-effete piece is striking. Let’s see how he does this. He sets the tone of the article by jumping knee-deep into what one might call the corporate image of the AU, writing: “Whether a body that had existed and done business under one name for a good 39 years was wise to follow the hollow idea pursued – with commercial objectives in mind – by certain public relations agencies in the West, and change its nomenclature, with all the confusion that such an

action would create in the international arena where it operated – is open to question”To the casual reader, this might suggest that the name-change was influenced by someone somewhere, and coming from the writer, we can easily assume it was Western-driven. Quite how the name-change was predicated on commercial objectives is unclear, and Duodu makes no effort to explain this. He subsequently then spends some four paragraphs maximum taking us from Nato never changing its name (despite undergoing a“major transformation”) to why the EU went from a European Economic Community to a more-powerful EU: “The reason was that the “European Economic Community” did become a misnomer, when the organisation’s objectives evolved with time to become radically transformed from a system of mere economic co-operation into a fully integrated unit that combines economic co-operation with full socio-political integration as well.”. He even rambles a bit: “Of course, the fact that NATO did not change its name brought no obligation to the OAU not to change its name, either”. The last sentence is, in my view, frankly, a totally redundant statement that adds scant value to the essence of the piece. A point I touched on last week is that of what the academics say about the nomenclature of the AU. Academics talk of an imitation of sorts by the AU of the EU—but not an outright one, preferring to speak more of a process of diffusion that sees the AU emulating the structures of the EU but through norms and principles. An enlightened man like Duodo could have made some effort to find out the theories associated with regional integration and whether it is pure imitation. Even academic think-tanks, like ZEI in Germany, have written many articles on this which speak to an AU even possibly emerging as a kind of United Nations counterpart for Africa. That it has established a Peace and Security Council (an imitation of the UN) with fifteen members also could be an element encouraging us to see the AU a bit more differently. Regrettably, Duodo offers no insight into this history, preferring rather to explain it away thus: “the name change from “OAU” to “AU” was the result of the African countries being seduced to imitate the European example without first enacting any of the organic arrangements that bind the members of the “European Union” together.” Throughout the article, he uses the word “imitation” many times as if to suggest that the whole AU project is a futile and useless endeavour. Even if he thinks it is, it would have been more appropriate to offer an objective view to the reader for them to make up their own mind. This sensation is best exemplified by this crystal-clear statement “The most glaring example of the emptiness of the “African Union” idea, of course, is that despite the example that Europe has dangled before the eyes of the African leaders, most African countries still oblige African visitors to their countries to obtain a visa before they can do so.”The point he raises is a very important one, and an issue which we shall see next week how he treated, as we contemporaneously wrap up the critique of Duodo’s article as well. In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42 nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: 0268.687.653.

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