by Saunders Jumah - 01 September 2016
African governments and leaders are going to be issued with African passports as a first step to direct the path towards continental unity. While we appreciate and ululate such stances and developments, we must critically examine such moves. If African presidents get these travel documents of what importance will they be, because already these leaders travel with green or red diplomatic passports with no restrictions. Would it not be conducive if they could just declare that African passports are available to everyone who is interested travelling across the Continent? This type of attitude of testing waters first before trying to implement noble goals and objectives has already failed Africa for 70 years.
The introduction of African passports must not be selective for this exercise to produce best results of uniting the Continent. The process is supposed to be general; all African citizens must be given the liberty of acquiring this document. To first issue leaders and presidents African passports is just a white elephant, which does not make any sense and would change nothing. These leaders seldom travel and they conduct no business to warrant a continental passport. The people who need African passports are ordinary and business people who are transacting on a daily basis, continentally and globally. Issuance of African passports and making them public to all is the only way that can ensure all Africans that we are moving a step forward towards continental unity.
If these passports are issued selectively as diplomatic passports what difference do they make from the current jamborees that have been taking place since 1963? The planners and everyone in the engine room organizing and making this arrangement must know that they have failed a grand project that was supposed to be a step forward in the history of the Continent.
Importance of continental unity
Africa, for 2000 years, has not had the stamina to control her territorial integrity despite being independent. African land is not monitored, nor watched; African waters are not monitored or guarded, for we have had no economic power to plan all of this. Instead, the powerful USA, UK, France and Russia are the people who are watching and monitoring the universal waters and land.
Africa is not safe any longer without unity and know-how on how to safeguard and monitor its territory of both landmass and marine. Realizing that for 70 years the continent has been fragmented, the Continent has lost broader thinking capacity because every nation arrested itself in thinking small as per the territory they rule or belong to. Hence, many states have no tangible development and extravagant infrastructure.
It is a pity to note that the whole continent of Africa, large as it is, does not produce electricity that can match a country such as Japan. Africa, with a population larger than one billion citizens; has no food security and no abundant water, despite having over 10 lakes of clean pure drinking water. Africa has no market to sell or buy from, despite the billion inhabitants, yet we fight for the products from EU, China, Japan and America - places where the population itself and land mass cannot be compared to that of Africa.
Fragmentation of Africa has delayed development and best life to African people
A smaller part of Africa called DRC, is larger than the whole EU before the UK exited. The resources from this country alone stretch to US$24 trillion. Here we are talking of the untapped resources, not what has already been stolen and exploited. Then there are oil deposits in Angola in countless quantities, and far south the Republic of South Africa has vast resources of gold and platinum that the Apartheid government, together with their sponsors in London and Washington, failed to dig it all and finish before Nelson Mandela, the terrorist, could come and take power. In Zambia copper will be there until the end of times. uranium in Niger is available in unaccountable quantities. Each and every part of the Continent is holding precious deposits and hordes and hordes of resources required in this era and eras to come.
The demarcation of Africa by colonial powers delayed this continent and wasted time for development and industrialization. Africa by now, could have enhanced in road networking from state to state, could have connected state by state in both rail and air transport, and markets could have been introduced from within. Africa united does not require or need the outside world, which is perhaps the reason the partitioners did their best to make sure that Africa could not unite or become one. Many flags have decorated anarchy, wars, tribalism, racism and poverty in Africa, which is the reason why those planning to unite it must be cautioned and warned that their steps must not come in a form of trial and error, they do not need to test the waters. The water is cold, there is no need to fear. The waters of Africa is crossable and we are late.
While Africa faces a high unemployment rate and conditions of subhuman bondage, we have no time to waste or ponder, we must move and make it happen. All the resources we have in the Continent are enough reference to eradicate poverty and arrest the unemployment rate in the Continent. As EU explodes we will have to hire immigrant workers from EU, China and India to come and work in our mineral, marine, agriculture, tourism and other sectors, while we, the owners, are busy rebuilding our continent.
Africa is the future of the world
Despite the Continent having dark coloured people, we are humans and we must be proud of this nature, despite having been enslaved. We are the race that has lived and sustained the evils of annihilation, extermination and impoverishment. Despite our resources having been exploited from time immemorial, still vast resources are being found and the existing resources do not show signs of extinct. There are tales that say: "Old is golden and that what goes through perilous time and suffers terrible humiliation emerges to become golden where all the oppressors come to praise. Africa is one of the continents that are coming up to be praised and admired, making it unsafe to enemies from the outside world.
Time for continental policies to tie umbilical cord with grassroot citizens in Africa
Any meaningful policy, idea or objective made at the summit and round tables in state houses, or at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, should entwine with the people on grassroots level to make sense.
We must argue that for 70 years of AU existence there has never been tangible development and touchable change on the African continent because all the policies and agreements have had no umbilical cord connecting them with the citizens at grassroots level. This is why we are arguing that the issuance of African passports will be another white elephant if they are issued only to leaders and government office holders.
African passports must be issued to all citizens so that even people in the countryside should feel the change in their lives, particularly the travelling class and business people, as well as case truck driver and international transit bus drivers. This is the change Africa is anticipating for.
In advance we wish all those at the helm of driving the project of African unity a long life to be able to see and taste its fruits.
The United States of Africa is not just a pipe dream but a reality; the drivers, advocates, pioneers, architects and engineers are as many as the population of the Continent itself.
This statement was compiled in the situation room of the FORUM FOR THE FUTURE OF AFRICA (FFFA) The past we inherited, the future we all make.
The Utopian: Africa's own think tank.
Founder at Forum for the Future of Africa