‘Africa is not a country’, but maybe it should be

African heads of state and government

The 32 African leaders who were signatories to the formation of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 should be turning in their graves right now as the level of divisiveness in the continent further delays the realization of the African Union dream.

We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that there were two proponents of unity i.e. the Casablanca bloc led by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and the Monrovia bloc led by Senegal’s Leopold Senghor.

The former, including Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Egypt, Mali, and Libya wanted a federation of all African countries while the latter which included Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia, and most of the former French colonies wanted unity through economic cooperation.

Kwame Nkrumah’s vision as stated in his 1963 book Africa Must Unite was to fade out the physical and imaginary boundaries created by the European colonialists after the “Scramble for Africa” between 1881 and 1914 that partitioned the continent.

Fast-forward to 2017, millennials and other political figures in Africa are advocating for the same boundaries the freedom fighters fought against. Young Africans are campaigning under the “Africa is not a country” banner by calling out anyone who makes a generalization by mentioning Africa instead of a country in the continent.

The most recent incident was between South Africans on Twitter and an American singer, songwriter, rapper, drummer, and record producer Anderson Paak who was trolled on Thursday for tweeting: “MAma [sic] I made it to Africa” while in South Africa for the AFROPUNK FEST in Johannesburg.

MAma I made it to Africa

— ANDY (@AndersonPaak) December 28, 2017

He received a lot of jabs but a few people defended the fact that his tweet was harmless and “South Africa is Africa”.

You’re the Holy Spirit – you spread yourself across 54 countries in Jesus’ name… https://t.co/QlQOrE6qCx

— RSA Minister of Police (@MbalulaFikile) December 28, 2017

An attempt to support him by pairing Africa to the United States of America failed.

Still makes sense because South Africa is in Africa. If I were to make it to somewhere in the states I’d also be like, “Mama I made it to America”

— Gabrielle Universe? (@gabsbluemilo) December 28, 2017

Others, however, tried to defend him out of the thousands of tweet replies that attacked the musician.

Many argue that some African countries are responsible for their woes which indirectly affect others who are otherwise developing at a faster pace. There are insurgencies in Nigeria and Somalia, communal conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Libya and the Central African Republic among other eventualities that affect the continent’s image.

Some of these countries with internal problems were key during the decision-making process to create a united Africa. They all contributed to the creation of what is currently termed the African Union. Isn’t it a shame that other problem-free and resource-rich countries are silent on the plight of their neighbors who are also called Africans outside the continent?

It should be noted that Ghana was the only country that went to the aid of Guinea after the former French colony voted against French dominance prior to attaining independence in October 1958. The French left the West African country with nothing even though they milked it dry over the years.

Other countries received immense support decades ago, yet, that can’t be said of today. Individual countries rather lean towards “neo-colonialism” [as preached by Nkrumah] for aid from Western countries. Those in the position to help are playing ostriches to their African roots and brotherly duties.

The African Union has failed to chart the path of economic unity as proposed by the 1963 Monrovia bloc consisting of most of the former French colonies.

Granted that Africa is a continent, isn’t it time to restart the campaign for the United States of Africa?

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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