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Opinions of Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

United States Of Nkrumah.

Uited States of Africa is no doubt the way forward. But it would have been catastrophic even apocalyptic if the Grandfather of African dictatorship, Kwame Nkrumah's version of African Union had panned out. In fact the present AU 's still birth is due to the template it is based on, Nkrumah's Organization of African Union.


In the beginning, Nkrumah had many options; some based on historical precedents. Nkrumah could have gone the American way: whereby Colonies which became confederates, later surrendered peacefully, some of their confederate rights, after tedious and tortuous negotiations through conventions, congresses etc. Or the Russian turned Soviet way: whereby most terroritories were forcibly and brutally annexed by dominant Russia without consultation or consideration. Or Nkrumah could have envisioned the European Union way, way in advance: whereby individual States after what one might call independence from "divine rule", evolved in their own ways and later set standards and qualifications to form and to be admited into the Union; which in itself depended on the individual states' consent after consultation with citizens. In the America way, dissent, no matter what, was subjected to due process. Penalties never crossed into the boundaries of guilty by association. That is no one got punished just because one's uncle or cousin did something. Nor did anyone get penalised simply because one belonged to an association whose members dissented without one's implicit or explicit involvement.

In the Soviet way, dissent , no matter what, was dealt with mercilessly. Guilt by association that is, the "political crimes" of one's uncle's brother's cousin's driver's father were also one's crimes and thus one suffered for it. Millions 'd be killed and imprisoned PDA style under this philosophy.


A visonary could have excersised caution and could have gone the historical way, that is the American way; which by then had had almost 200 years of united experience. Or the visionary would have foreseen the EU way and would have planned accordingly. But no visionary would have gone the Soviet way. He would have divined its inevitable collapse based on its formation and structure. Of the three, Nkrumah unfortunately went the Soviet way. And Africans should be mightly glad that Nkrumah's version AU failed to or has failed to come to fruition. For regardless of Nkrumah's rethoric and vague vision, what he actually did - to and in Ghana -is what he would have done in United States of Nkrumah. Taking Nkrumah's Ghana as a microcosm, as a"gene" of the African organism, one can easily divine how United States of African would have turned out. In Nkrumah's African Union, dissent would have been greeted with Preventive Detention Act/s ( PDAs). Guilty by association to the thousandth degree would have been decreed. Due process would have been suspended. Territories and countries, hither to, democratic would have been converted to one party States and ultimately, into dictatorial United States of Africa and not democratic United State of Africa.

In Nkrumah's United States, prisons built to accommodate dissidents would have, by now, outnumber colonial castles and forts- imagine many "Nsawams" dotted across the continent. The Sahara would have been to Nkrumah what Siberia was to Stalin; a god forsaken wasteland but fit for political prisoners. In the end, Nkrumah's Union would have collapsed just like the Soviet Union had, after trampling on the rights of future Estonians, future Lithuanians, future Uzbekistan, future Georgians, future Ukrainians, future Latvians and many many more.....just as the Holy Roman Empire and many others had collapsed. For no one can rule another forever without his consent. The first chapters of history attest to this truism


To realize the dream of United States of Africa, the brainchild of Nkrumah, OAU and its successor, AU, must be jettisoned. Right from the start, the OAU was a walking contradiction. Freedom fighers turned dictators, that is leaders who had stifled freedom at home after wrestling freedom from abroad,formed the organization. To make matter worse it was headquatered in the most repressive regime on the continent, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. No qualification was required except independence. All sorts of "shady characters" joined the OAU; be it dictators, autocrats, soldiers, despots. Thus one could see from the beginning that the OAU was a window dressing entity- just imagine the laughable idea of dictators and despots trying to form a consensus.... which in itself, is rooted in democracy. Nothing concrete could or would come from such an organization. And nothing concrete has come out of the AU yet, due to its motley crew. Right now, Africa is no different from the EU before it became the EU. The concept of EU never materialized as long as the European countries had different political philosophies. After the overthrow of divine rule in 17th century Europe, almost all the countries went in different directions. Some became constitutional monarchies, others absolute monarchies, some became republics etc. These differences would later morph into Fascism, socialism, communism, democracy in the early 19th to 20th century. They did not have much in common then except the color of their skins. Thus, it was not until the idea of due process and democracy , in different forms, had taken root in almost all the countries did EU become what we see to day. After thousands of years fighting and killing each other, the Europeans had finally found something that could bind them togather.

As at now, the only common denominator in the AU is the color of our skins- minus the Arabs. And that is not enough and has never been enough to bind us together due to the politico-philosophical differences that lie underneath our skins. And as long as African countries would continue subscribing to different political philosophies, be it military rule, despotism, archaic socialism, authoritarianism etc AU would continue to be a sham.

In place of the AU therefore, Ghana, as the beacon of democratic Africa, must take the lead and form a new union with democratic credentials as the entry qualification. We must not allow the color of skins or a shared continent to blind us. (The Pan Africanists should take note). Member States of the new democratic African Union will only heed the calls of those countries that have embraced democracy and due process. From there, this nucleus of the new democratic African Union must use every resources at it's disposal to make uncomfortable, the lives of non democratic African countries; even to the point of inciting democratic revolutions within these countries until they all become democratic.

Then and only then, would the United States of Nkrumah become a reality. Then and only then would the AU become a Bona fide entity. Until then we are wasting our time.

Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto