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Abolish the African Diaspora as the 6th Region and Bring Back Pan African Congresses, Says Kassim Khamis.

By KASSIM KHAMIS ~  

2. The revival of the Pan African Congresses and their institutionalization within the AU system should facilitate many things. For example, currently, the decision has been to categorize the African Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the AU. In my view, this is not practical because the five geographical regions under which the AU is operating are only practical during the AU organs sessions, in which the African Diaspora is not represented. Physically, there is no geographical region on the ground with which the AU is working; but there are RECs in which category the Sixth Region of the African Diaspora does not fit as well. The Diaspora meeting in May could be a time for such a transformation into a Pan African Congress.

THE HISTORICAL ROOTS AND EVOLUTION OF PAN AFRICANISM AND

THE AFRICAN RENAISSANCE

 

Contribution to the Workshop on Pan Africanism and African Renaissance

2-4 march 2013, Addis Ababa by Kassim M. Khamis*

 

The African unity agenda has been a long process that has gone through three main stages since 1963. These are the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the African Economic Community (AEC) and now the African Union (AU).

Due to the difficult nature of circumstances in which it was established, the OAU had weak Charter and ended up concentrating mainly on political issues—particularly fighting colonialism and consolidating member states’ independence. There was no consensus among the member states on how to pursue the African unity agenda—whether by a unitary system or through regional groupings. The groupings were kept away, and even instructed not to pursue any political agenda by the first meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Dakar, Senegal, in August 1963.

By the mid-1970s, economic issues were pressing and member states agreed to establish the AEC between 1976 and 2000. By then, they had settled on working to attain the continental unity through regional groupings and subsequently they decided on the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to be the AEC pillars. The Community was to have stronger legal instrument (treaty) with some supranational powers; stronger organs with peoples’ representation through organs such as Pan African Parliament; a sound financial backing by an African Payments Union; a clear program of work (6 stages) developed from the Lagos Plan of Action and its Final Act; and a robust continental institutional framework. In the process, a number of activities were to be carried out to facilitate the AEC’s institutionalization. They included preparation of protocols to complement the AEC Treaty (the Abuja Treaty), reviewing the OAU Charter to harmonize legal instruments, restructuring the OAU General Secretariat, inauguration of the Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC), devising budget and resource mobilization plans, and identification and strengthening of the RECs both financially and administratively.

Unfortunately, the Community faced many challenges and could not be realized as planned. On one hand, it took about fifteen years (15) just to get the Treaty drafted. It was finally signed in June 1991, in Abuja, Nigeria. From 1976 the OAU was just formulating new blueprints that included the Monrovia Strategy of 1979, the Lagos Plan of Action and its Final Act of 1980 that formed the basis on which the Treaty was drafted and so on.

On the other hand, the Community process also faced many other challenges that led to the lack of its realization. The main reason behind that failure was simply the inappropriate execution of the Community’s implementation strategy:

Firstly, RECs were not adequately involved in the whole process—from the drafting of the Abuja Treaty to its implementation. They had, ultimately, to be attached to the Community by a specific Protocol that had its own defects, such as the lack of linking policy organs of the OAU/AEC to those of RECs. As a consequence, the Protocol emerged as a mere cooperation agreement at the secretariat level of the OAU/AEC, African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Regional Economic Communities. Therefore, RECs remained loosely connected to the OAU/AEC.

Secondly, there was misunderstanding on the relationship between the OAU and the Community, the result of which the two institutions existed concurrently in a confusing way, as the AEC with superior Treaty was attached in a subordinate manner to the weak OAU and its Charter, sharing the same organs, budget etc., but tending to operate differently.

Thirdly, and in view of the above, many programmes could not be accordingly executed. For example, the OAU Charter could not be reviewed; and organs, like the Pan African Parliament and the Court of Justice could not be created denying the African people representation in the continental affairs. Moreover, the drafting of the related Protocols and generally the six stages laid down in the Abuja Treaty and so on, all ended up unsuccessful.

Thus, by September 1999, just a year before the targeted time for the AEC to have been in place, there were difficulties in the creation of the Community; while the OAU had been outdated and too weak to take Africa into the Twenty-first Century. In the circumstances and in anticipation to get out of the confusion, the African Union was created.

The idea to transform the OAU into the AU, as we all know, was spearheaded by the Libyan Leader, Muammar Ghaddafi. He had already led the creation of the Community of Sahel-Saharan State (CENSAD) in February 1998, but later became impressed by the position taken by the African leaders, meeting in their thirty-fourth session in June 1998 in Burkina Faso, on the sanctions imposed on his country. During that summit in Ouagadougou, the African leaders called upon the UN Security Council to lift the sanctions imposed on Libya. Otherwise, they would no longer comply with the Security Council Resolution 748 (1992) and 883(1993) on the issue. The sanctions had been imposed following Libya’s reluctance to handover for trial in the United States of America or United Kingdom of its two citizens who had implicated in the PAN-AM bombing incident over Lockerbie, Scotland, preferring a neutral ground.

Consequently, when the Libyan leader proposed the transformation of the OAU, the situation was already ripe for change; and after some consultations, the African leaders reached an agreement to transform the OAU into the AU.

Now, following the confusion that had emanated from the concurrent existence of the OAU and the AEC and the agreement reached in Sirte in September 1999, the AU was to be a merger of the OAU and the AEC, hence the OAU Charter and the Abuja Treaty, into one single institution (the AU) under one single legal document (the Constitutive Act) into which RECs would be consolidated under one hierarchy and a single overall continental framework. This is in accordance with the three main instruments that established the AU, namely, the Sirte Declaration, the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the Decision on the African Union [EAHG/DECL.1 (V)] that formally put in place the AU. Consequently, the final objective and plan was to establish the AU, as a new institution integrating both the OAU and the AEC leading, ultimately, to the United States of Africa, as clarified by the fifth ordinary session of the Executive Council and confirmed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2005. The AU was to ensure the realization of the free trade area, the customs union, and the common market, in short the OAU and AEC’s objectives, at both regional and continental levels under its auspices and in an accelerated way.

Unfortunately, in my view, the establishment of the AU did not proceed according to its strategy agreed by the African leaders in those three fundamental legal documents. Once again, RECs were not adequately involved in spite of the fact that the Sirte Declaration called for the consolidation of RECs within the AU; Article 33 of the Constitutive Act ordered the same by the devolution of all OAU/AEC’s assets and everything to the AU, and the Decision on the African Union stressed the execution of the process in conformity with Article 33 of the Act. This was in addition to the fact that the Protocol on relations between the AEC and RECs, however imperfect, had called under its Article 7(2e) for the Committee on Coordination to determine the implementation of the OAU’s decisions on the Abuja Treaty, which were equally binding on RECs according to Article 10(2) of the Treaty. However, the Committee on Coordination was not convened; leaving the RECs sidelined in the process and continued being organically outside the AU system; taking the AU execution process to a different course.

Yet, it is now encouraging to note that efforts are being made to put the African Union Strategy on its proper course. The AU policy organs have already decided on the preparation of an African Union Strategic Plan to be jointly drafted by all AU organs, including RECs. Equally important, the current AU Commission’s leadership has shown its determination to bring RECs and the people onboard; and that process has already started by consultations with RECs to chart the way forward. In addition, an initiative like this workshop is a clear evidence of what is conveyed here.

That said, and in order to make things better the following recommendations are advanced for consideration, particularly, as we are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the OAU:

1.  So far, the celebrations seem to focus more on the founding and founders of the OAU. It is important to recall that OAU was part of the implementation of the Pan Africanism that had its own founders as well. Names of Henry Sylvester William, E.W. Burghardt Du Bois, William Marcus Garvey and others need also to be given a recognition they deserve. We have seen already photographs of the founders of the OAU hanging out there in the AU Conference Centre but there is nothing in commemoration of those founders of the Pan African Movement. Why then not reviving the Pan African Congresses, which those people founded in place of such new terms as Diaspora summits etc. This gesture should be to appreciate the contribution of the African Diaspora in general in the African unity agenda.

2. The revival of the Pan African Congresses and their institutionalization within the AU system should facilitate many things. For example, currently, the decision has been to categorize the African Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the AU. In my view, this is not practical because the five geographical regions under which the AU is operating are only practical during the AU organs sessions, in which the African Diaspora is not represented. Physically, there is no geographical region on the ground with which the AU is working; but there are RECs in which category the Sixth Region of the African Diaspora does not fit as well. The Diaspora meeting in May could be a time for such a transformation into a Pan African Congress.

3.  In the same connection, the Pan African Congresses should be a free forum for not only the African Diaspora but also for the civil society organizations, private sector in Africa etc. They can organize themselves into committees dealing with various issues to support the AU, including this partnership which is discussed here. As examples have already been given, they can run themselves and be of no, or at least less, financial burden to the AU. They can be an important driving force of the African Union, just the way they initiated the original Pan African Movement that led us to where we are now.

4. The African Union has officially identified its pillars, which are the eight RECs, namely, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Union of Maghreb States (UMA). As we are looking forward to their consolidation within the AU to realize the Union’s vision by 2063, we can also start having their presence recognized and felt in the AU Commission’s compound. We have buildings, conference halls and rooms. Why calling them Buildings A, B, C or Conference Rooms 1, 2, 3 etc.? We can have COMESA Hall, ECOWAS Hall etc, instead; and even the names of some of the Pan Africanists who had played a greater role in this Pan Africanism process as a way of appreciating their role. Why should we appear, as if we don’t have history?

5.  Again, as we look forward to 2063, the general perception is to have a more united Africa according to the AU’s vision already defined. However, it should be recalled that the way the AU came into existence, it was accelerated by efforts of one person, the Libyan leader. Now, how long will it take us to get another leader to push for the realization of our vision in 2063? Among the deficiency of the 1963 summit was the lack of putting in place a mechanism to foster the African unity dream. This now should change. If in 1963 the OAU Founders focused on the liberation of Africa and supported it by creating a Liberation Committee, it is time that in May 2013, the AU summit inaugurates a Unity Committee that will campaign and spearhead the realization of the AU’s vision by 2063.

6.  Having said that, and from the way the Constitutive Act has been drafted and executed, this Act cannot take us to 2063. There will be a need for its review in line with its own articles particularly the execution of its Article 33 that calls for the total incorporation of the Abuja Treaty and RECs into the Constitutive Act and the African Union.

Thank you very much.

*Mr. Kassim M. Khamis is the Political Analyst, Panel of the Wise, Peace and Security Directorate, African Union

 AS PUBLISHED IN THE AFRICAN SUN TIMES
 March 4, 2013  AT: http://africansuntimes.com/2013/03/abolish-the-african-diaspora-as-...

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Dead people will never wake up.  Of course, Jesus said two thousand and theirteen years ago that he would return soon, but he has never turned and that was 28 generations ago and there are Africans living among us who depend on the coming of Jesus to save our butt.  They say it is a matter of believe.  Nobody will save us but us. 

Before my grandfather died at the age of 125 years old, most of  my people in my twon Afrantwo, Adum, Kumase, Asante, Ghana, used to congregate in front of our house to see when my grandfather would fly away for our folklore indicate that old people do not die but they fly away and can return anytime. When he died, the same people used to congregate in front of my house waiting for my grandfather to return. Of course, he never returned since 1954.  Shame unto humanity for no dead person can return to live among us on earth

In the case of Jesus it si a shame that some Africans still believe he would return. That is their faith and such a faith can cripple our race for another 1000 years to come thinking of the impossibility facing humanity in terms of physics a decayed body can never revive itself and to be deceived by the Mafia based Roman Catholic Church to  keep us blind of our realities. 

In the same vein, When W.E.B. Dubois and George Pasmore helped to create the OAU and now AU, Pan Africanism died. Unless a seed dies, it cannot multiply. But the Negroes in America will prefer that Africa does not grow. Why do we call for Pan Africanism? Tell me, what is the use. Even during the best years of Pan African activities, they never had an office where you can call for any information.

Instead, during the hey days of Dubois who justifies Marcus Garvey by going to Africa and dying in Ghana he was able to form NAACP.  That was a great move, but then the Negroes never subscribed to it and he finally left in frustration to Russia where after becoming a member of the Moscow City Council, he discovered that white racism is not only limited to USA, but worst of it in Russia.

If Dubois had understood Marcus Garvey, a great legacy might have been left for us to continue. Instead Dubois like most of the Negroes of his time took Garvy to be an enemy and never paid Garvey attention until he went to Ghana but by that time it wss too late. The Negroes had betrayed Marcus Garvey and he was deported to Jamaica.

The email above by Brother Kassim Khamis really explains well the development of Pan African Concept to OAU and AU.  The problems facing Africa is the same problems facing Europeans hence you will notice that whatever the Europeans have tried to do the Africans imitete them. Dividing the continent into economic blocks along the lines of the European Common Market is an indication that the African leaders are blind and under estimate the powers inherent in different competing currencies in each block. 

The Africans are killing our own economic development by encouraging several currencies to exist along the rest of the currency of each African nation to exist as a medium of exchange in each country so that in West Africa alone, the West African Common Market or the Exonomic Community of West African States is bound to fail because of the multiplicities of currencies in such a small geographical area.

But these Negro Presidents will never see how each currency is competing with the others unless you travel from Gambia to Gabon and you will find out that unless you hold USA dollar transactions in local currencies are limited. Of course the Francophone countries have the African Franc which is accepted in all the slave countries of France.

The problem facing us in USA is not the revival of Pan Africanism. It is a matter of serious men and women (and this is lacking for slavery has deprived us of our common struggl for survival0 who are willing to sacirfice time and money to form a nonprofit corporation with 501 C 3 status, to promote our interest in USA.   Now who in our African community in USA is willling to undertake such an ordious task?.

Even with African Studies Departments funded by CIA all over the country, the best we have done is the creation of an organization unconnected to our community and they only meet once a year and their concern is not the promotion of our depressed communities but having fun as all the Negro Organizations including Sullivan Foundation which after years of partying in Africa, closed its doors without leaving a single legacy for the continuation by concerned Africans. If you are serious, visit and join us at www.sada54.org and www.sadainc.org

 

Kofi Agyapong

  

 

 

 

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