Which Way Forward?

By Ochieno, Joseph | New African, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Which Way Forward?


Ochieno, Joseph, New African


When the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was gloriously founded in May 1963, the objectives of the few but fiery founding parents were that in their lifetimes, Africa would become free from colonial rule, more and economically prosperous. Some leaders were more optimistic than others and all had different kinds of emphasis.

Whereas total liberation, especially for Southern African states, was an aim on which there was near-consensus, there was less agreement on the pace of unity and whether or not Africa needed one strong government with a viable army, as proposed by Kwame Nkrumah, backed by Milton Obote and Julius Nyerere. These leaders believed that a stronger Africa would be more difficult to compromise by the then very aggressive imperialist powers during the Cold War. To them, an attack on one country was an attack on all of Africa. Indeed they told their respective citizens that they could never consider themselves "free and independent", unless and until the whole continent was free. In focus were countries like South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Not surprisingly, as time went by and some of the independence leaders got compromised, there was the formation of the "Mulungushi club", a core group of three leaders who saw themselves as incorruptible and at the centre of these struggles, namely julius Nyerere (host), Milton Obote and Kenneth Kaunda. They won, eventually. South Africa became the youngest "free" nation in 1994 and Africa is now fully self-governing but, really?

In 2002, the OAU was succeeded by the African Union (AU), which was seen as moving the continental body from an emphasis on decolonisation and self-governance to prioritising the issues of the day, namely: ensuring a general improvement in people's lives, the security of individuals, the rule of law (with an emphasis on democracy) and economic emancipation through investment in infrastructure, agricultural reforms, free trade, customs unions, and improvements in the health, education and employment sectors, amongst others.

Whether a name change-change was needed is a matter for debate and, perhaps, a worthy review in a decade or so. …

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