This month, the African Union launched a new passport that would enable all Africans to travel across all countries in the "dark continent" as some dubious scholars had earlier described. And after following debates clouding the "laudable move," as I would describe, from every logical and empirical standpoint, African should be proud about this and unite around it. I will explain.
The AU is modeled on the EU, a relatively successful regional economic bloc. Its change of name from OAU came shortly after former Libyan leader and African statesman, Muammar Gaddafi, initiated a resolution in Sirte, Libya, that called for the establishment of AU, reinforce Africa's peace and security strategies, create African Economic Communities (AECs), and speed up the cancellation of Africa's debts.
Basically, this is one of the best structural governance approaches. It suffices that Africa, irrespective of its bad leaders, regroup into smaller Regional Economic Communities (RECs) based on linguistic, cultural and geography ties; manage trade, political and security issues at a regional level first; and later on merge those pillars to form a "United States of Africa" by 2034. Let me digress a little here. Cameroon dubiously sets its growth and emergence in 2035, probably because Africa would have seen significant progress by 2035. That will be for another write-up anyway.
So far, the progress across Africa has been very impressive with regional pillars like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) being the most successful among the eight pillars that include Cameroon's Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). CEMAC is only a subgroup of ECCAS. Other pillars like Nigeria's ECOWAS already rolled out passports for its regional member states. ECCAS did same. Africa is building up stronger and faster than no one ever predicted or could explain.
In fact, IMF and ADB note that sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest-growing region in the world, with the Ivory Coast being "Africa's fastest growing economy," citing to the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook. Take a look at the five biggest emerging economies in the world, one -- South Africa, is in Africa. In terms of population, Africa has over a billion with most of them being youths. Business opportunities are flooding the continent as ICT opportunities expand into the "darker regions." Every country in the world sees Africa as a hotbed of trade relations.
Neoclassical realist, Fareed Zakaria, described a rare situation about Africa in his book "The Post-American World." He notes that on one hand there is a robust economy, but on the other, the political leaders are not at all impressive. In summary, marriage between bad leadership and a robust economy beats imagination. And with the new crop of thinkers, scholars, activists, and leaders across the continent, any leader sitting in the West would predict that a revenge against the West could be imminent if Africa quickly gains uncontrolled economic power.
The battle for Benghazi was not because Gaddaffi ignited chaos, as the Western media reported. It was simply because the drive and vision for Africa by Mr. Gaddaffi was a "threat" to Western interests, particularly France. France has reportedly wrecked havoc across the continent from North to West and Center. Where France passes, underdevelopment follows.
And with fearless leaders like Robert Mugabe, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Omar Bashir, etc., it is rational to think that no Western leader would want them around their paths. To deal away with them here is the Western strategy: demonize and vilify them with Western media propaganda; sabotage their visits; slap sanctions on their economies so that citizens feel the pinch and rally against them; sponsor Civil Society Organizations to hit hard on them irrationally; use military intervention; use the ICC.
Let me pick on the ICC, a contemporary sword of Damocles. At now, 122 countries have signed and ratified the ICC’s Rome Statute, the ICC notes. "The United States, China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Israel, and Turkey have not ratified it and thus are not under the jurisdiction of the court." Around one-third of its member states are in Africa. Interestingly, there are more than 8000 case files lying at the ICC, that have been either referred to the ICC by member states themselves or have been reported by pressure groups. But all the indicted alleged criminals are from Africa. Is that not selective justice at its peak?
Not only that, but they indict sit-in heads of state, and even go as far as pressuring other countries to arrest them when they come visiting. Has Tony Blair ever been indicted, despite evidence of war crimes in Iraq as revealed by the Chilcott report? No, he hasn't. So do you mean all devilish leaders are found only in Africa? I disagree.
It has always been my take that gone are those days we should be settling scores by arresting and indicting our leaders. We cannot have a burning house and we go around chasing rats. It is simple, did Nelson Mandela arrest all those Whites who were responsible for the Apartheid blunders in his country? No, he quickly rolled out peace and reconciliation. So why can't the West do same for Africa? Allow citizens to hold their leaders accountable and mind your business. Citizens are intelligent enough and can make rational decisions. The pressure our despotic leaders are now facing is hotter than even arrest. Many of them are chiseling their uncouth policies owing to citizens' demands.
And while the U.S. -- a global hegemon keeps hawking over Africa, I strongly suggest that Africans should be wise enough to see progress in their continent, and not allow Western-led interventions that will roll back their countries decades behind. Of what use is Libya today? See how North Africa has been shredded. It would take at least 50 more years for Libya to develop. The best U.S. leader for Africa would be that leader who will Mind His Business.
So far, Donald Trump thinks so. That leader who would steer clear of Africa in some way unlike Hillary Clinton who already has dirty footprints on the continent. That leader who would give Africa a chance to grow while breathing fresh air and not tear gas and bomb explosives. And if Donald Trump sends back the illegal Africans from the U.S., it would be a great thing. We need more minds to develop our continent. Ghana is what it is today because the illegal immigrants sent back from Nigeria during "Ghana Must Go," in the 1980s helped their regimes to think inclusively and look inwards.
Nonetheless, African leaders should not take advantage of the selective justice by the ICC to demand a pull out from the ICC, which I support if things remain the same. African leaders must be tried in Africa and by African courts and by Africans. If it happens in Africa, it should be debated in Africa. Our leaders must not walk away with impunity. They must be held accountable at all times by their own citizens. If Africa seeks to meet up with the six growth stages, as envisaged by the Sirte Declaration, we must unite and not disunite.
NB: For a quick look, here are the growth stages by the AU:
1. (to be completed in 1999) Creation of regional blocs in regions where such do not yet exist
2. (to be completed in 2007) Strengthening of intra-REC integration and inter-REC harmonisation
3. (to be completed in 2017) Establishing of a free trade area and customs union in each regional bloc
4. (to be completed in 2019) Establishing of a continent-wide customs union (and thus also a free trade area)
5. (to be completed in 2023) Establishing of a continent-wide African Common Market (ACM)
6. (to be completed in 2028) Establishing of a continent-wide economic and monetary union (and thus also a currency union) and Parliament