AU: Fifty-One Years After

Fifty-one years ago, the founding fathers of what is today Africa Union established a continental organization, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), to champion the cause of what could have been a great continent.

The primary goal of ensuring that no part of the continent remained under the tutelage of colonialists was achieved eventually and in some cases, at a bloody cost.

We can today relish the fact that no part of the continent is under the subjugation of a world power, but that is all there is to it.

We face a new set of challenges, arguably more formidable than the uprooting of the colonialists.

We are still attached to the apron strings of the persons we claim to have uprooted because of our inability to attain economic independence.

Some parts of the continent are said to be enjoying steady growth but the reality on the ground suggests a wide schism between the rich and the downtrodden.

Bad governance is a scary feature of most countries as quality leadership continues to be an elusive dream.

As we celebrate the formation of the continental body whose achievement is another kettle of fish, it is important that the cornerstone of such analysis is objectivity.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, made interesting yet useful observations about the continent in commemoration of the occasion.

These remarks, although etched in diplomacy, had traces of brusqueness which the continental leadership must consider and be wise accordingly.

“Africa is achieving admirable growth, but social and economic inequalities are on the increase. Greater equity presents a common challenge to the continent as a whole and can help foster peace and stability.”

There could not have been a better description of the African situation than the foregone.

With so much resources and so much arable land, there surely must be admirable growth.

But the socio-economic inequalities which the UN Chief alluded to are realities which weigh down the progress of the continent.

Many of the upheavals in some parts of the continent are traceable to these socio-economic challenges. So when peace and stability become rare factors on the continent, we do not have to go far afield in finding the causes.

Selfishness, corruption and pettiness on the part of such uncaring leadership have affected dismally the progress of the individual countries much to the detriment of the people.

The have-nots will never understand why inequality has become a permanent feature of their individual countries, even as the political class live in affluence and lead profligate lifestyle factors hinged upon corruption and looting of the state coffers.

Unleashing the full potential of the continent’s agricultural sector, the source of employment for two out of every three Africans, as observed by Mr. Ban Ki Moon, will remain a pipedream, although we would have wished a reverse of this reality.

If the prevailing factors continue – and we doubt if they would change anytime soon – we would be writing along similar lines when the next date for the commemoration of the AU Day is due.

Happy AU day anyway.