From Saturday January 15th to Monday 17th, 2011, Tripoli, the Libyan capital hosted a historic conference which brought together representatives of African migrants from around the world. Delegates from Africa, Europe, North America, Caribbean Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia included personalities from African migrant background and the majority of them specialists in their fields of knowledge. The theme of the conference was, ‘a decent life in Europe or a welcome return to Africa.’ The objectives of the event were to discuss and find solutions to the issues faced by migrants in their countries of residence and how they could effectively contribute to the development of their continent of origin – Africa. At the background of the conference was the project of making a reality the idea of the United States of Africa.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping addressed participants at the beginning of the conference in a speech which emphasized the importance and role of African migrants in developing Africa. Among the many building blocs of the United States of Africa, the Tripoli conference saw the creation of an International Association of African Migrants whose work and headquarters will be located in Libya. The association’s branches will be established all over the world as needed.
Participants were explained the evolution of the creation of the United States of Africa since the transformation of the old Organisation of African Unity into African Union on 9/09/99. Speeding up the process of establishing AU institutions, and particularly putting in place a central, focused and broad structure of leadership for the continent was found critical. Explaining the AU project to masses in different African countries was also found crucial for making it the pillar of African development and the continent’s respect and image in the world.
The conference was marked by the spirit of the continent’s forefathers who fought for its independence around the 60s. Among the participants who reminded the audience of that critical period of African history were the son of Patrice Lumumba, the daughter of Nkwame Nkrumah, the son of Abdel Gamal Nasser, and the grandson of Malcom X. Traditional kings and queens of different parts of the continent were also represented. While talking to delegates to the conference, one could also understand directly what it means brain drains when it comes to Africa. Out of the 600 participants, almost every one had a post-graduate qualification and tens hold doctorates. And this was only the tip of the iceberg.
What does it take to build the United States of Africa? That’s the question. We Africans need total belief in its feasibility and realisation. Taking action at our own level by contributing with whatever involvement this could be. Since the 60s there have been wars around the world and most of them were fought on African soil. For decades the West has been testing its weaponry on the continent. On American or European soils there has never been any significant war since World War II. The only hiccup sort of war was Kosovo which were a consequence of the destruction of communism in the Balkans. As we know, the latter conflict was the ultimate phase of ousting communism from European soil. Unless we Africans come together and ban any supporters of wars in our midst, it will be difficult to progress.
By applying the same approach of unifying the African continent that Europe and U.S. used to strengthen their positions in the world, Africa could end its continuous wars. We know these wars are initiated by forces and powers outside the continent. Part of the tools which have been enslaving African leaders and making them to become tools in the hands of the neo-colonialists is aid. It has proven to be effective in keeping African countries in bondage. In recent years it has emerged that remittances from Africa migrants were much higher than aid and far more effective as they tackle directly without other intermediaries the needs of their recipients on the continent. Since no developed country has reached its current level of development through aid, stopping aid should be perceived as a significant way forward to development.
At the time the West is crippled with debts worth trillions of euros or dollars, it is at the same time when it is aggressively pursuing strategies to maintain its supremacy on all areas of world affairs, hammering among them the importance of its aid package. Ministerial delegations are regularly criss-crossing the African continent applying the same strategies of the past which succeeded to delay its development. The counter-plan has to be the enhancement of the Africa Union which was established and is being strengthened gradually. Its role and importance will improve standards and well being of African people.
Since 9.09.99, Kaddafi, the Libyan president, has become the ardent crusader of the Unites States of Africa. He needs us all Africans, wherever we are. All Africans and their leaders particularly need to support the train carrying the United States of Africa structure to make it a reality. A common market, a common currency, continental institutions (parliament, bank, capital, AU government, etc), continental policies on taxation, communication, security, natural resources, etc are very urgently needed. Let’s all play our part. I dream of a day soon to come when African people will be able to travel from Dakar to Nairobi, or Cairo to Cape Town, without a visa, and or live in any part of the continent as they like.