When the African Integration Revolution is Televised(2)...

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Information about When the African Integration Revolution is Televised(2)...
News & Politics

Published on February 26, 2014

Author: ekbensah

Source: slideshare.net

“The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen”: When the African Integration Revolution is Televised (2), and Why Cameron Duodu Must Come Again By E.K.Bensah Jr If a week is a long time in politics, in the corridors of the African Union, it must be a terribly-slow one, for although it has been two weeks since my last piece, the pace of African integration revolution has been relatively slow: Dzlamini-Zuma is still working the grounds to ensure her country’s acceptance to the helm of affairs of the increasingly-powerful AU; and the video promised us by the UNECA on intraAfrican trade has yet to make as much traction as one would have wanted. Twenty years ago, I had the priviledge of attending a secondary school that enabled me test my writing skills. Back in 1992, I started writing a column—Jeremy Bentham-- for the school’s newspaper. Even then, I possessed an atavistic tendency to write about unity. I re-call giving my piece to my parents to help shape the ideas around what seemed like grand organisations that held little resonant with a small mind like mine. Dad would—as always—impart his expert wordsmith tips to liven up the article. I also re-call the subject: I was trying to make the point that organisations like the Brussels-based European Union and Africa Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) all symbolised man’s aspirations to unite and forge a future together. In a circuitous way, I tried to stress a point about unity, but the point I was then referring to was predicated, in my view, on the basic capacity of organisations, such as the EU/ACP/Caricom, and their collective desire to unite on issues. It was really basic stuff. But even then, I still possessed a visceral feeling that there was more to this unity than coming together physically as member states. I would soon learn that it was unity alright—but not at all costs! In my view, the idea of unity—but NOT at any or all costs—is a conception that has helped shape my vision of a united Africa. Same can be said about the role of South Africa at the helm of the AU. Arguments over South Africa, redux Shortly after my last piece, two of my Pan-Africanist comrades sent a robust piece, which read somewhat like a defence of South Africa, and the need to give them a chance. I was accused of having been biased towards South Africa from the start—a fact I don’t deny! My reference to what the South African-based “Daily Maverick” called a “pissing contest” between continental powers South Africa and Nigeria over their behaviour in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya have been my major points of reference to illustrate how never the twain shall meet on Nigeria-South Africa collaboration. It is going to take a lot to convince sceptics and naysayers of South Africa not having duplicitous motives in their insistence that the AU should change direction in a more aggressive manner. To which I ask, if that is the case, then, why a strategic action plan which belong to member states of the AU? If we can believe that the strategic plan is a roadmap for how the AU Commission can help member states deliver, then surely it cannot be the preserve of an individualistic and powerful country that has more ties to the West than sub-saharan Africa. 1

I have it from very trusted official sources working at the Brussels-based organisation back in 2003— long before Sir John Kaputin’s tenure— of how South Africa tried to muscle its way to the top of the ACP Secretariat, but only managed to get Deputy Secretary General…with no less than a South African that had ties to the South African secret police. Even if this is to be dismissed, there are all sorts of stories that abound over the duplicity of South Africa—whether it is in a Black South African or White one and it is not going to go away—as long as there is the perception that South Africa has more than altruistic motives and designs for the continent. Still, all these should not take one away from the very real problems that are likely to hamper Africa’s integration—including apocryphal stories of how the OAU moved from an anti-colonisation advocacy organisation to an organisation that seeks to fight for a united, peaceful, and prosperous Africa. A case in point is that of Cameron Duodu’s article “From OAU to AU” in the July edition of the New African magazine, which had a special 30-page focus on the African Union and its ten years. Bottom line is that Duodu, for all his experience in writing about Ghana and Africa, ought to have consulted the Google search engine a bit more to offer deeper insights to inform his informative piece on the AU. Suffice-to-say, his piece reads like a rather-rushed one, with a lot of redundant phrases and information that seemed to have been put in to make the piece longer than it is in substance. For example, you cannot talk about the OAU-AU transition without talking about the Sirte Declaration of 1999;neither can you talk about the transition without a reference to the Abuja Treaty of 1991. Finally, this talk about the AU “imitating” the EU has been discussed to the death in academic pieces far-andwide seeking to explore whether the use of the model of the EU—rightly or wrongly—as examples for regional integration are more about mere “imitation” or “diffusion of norms”. I will spend some time next week dissecting the piece, and offer an insight into how it could have offered a fairer and more objective reflection of the continental organisation we have come to love and hate as the African Union. 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" (http://www.critiquing-regionalism.org). 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 ekbensah@ekbensah.net / Mobile: 0268.687.653.

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