Sunday, August 13, 2017

Africa should strive towards unification

By TheCitizen

Kenya’s national anthem is hymnal. It is replete with invocations, beseeching God to bless the land and make people live in unity, peace and liberty. Those are strong words that can mesmerise nations in a stratified world on inclinations such as beliefs, ethnicity or economic muscles.

Indeed Kenya is blessed and should guard itself against self-inflicted losses as they happened in the 2007 post-election violence.

Kenya is East Africa’s biggest economy, with the gross domestic product of $60.9 billion. It has 582,646 square kilometres and a coastline of 536 kilometres.

Its role in the development of the East African Community (EAC), which encompasses Kenya itself, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, cannot be underestimated. Its population of 45.6 million is part of EAC’s 150 million citizens. That was why East Africans and all well-wishers kept their fingers crossed when Kenya went to the polls on Tuesday.

They are happy that Kenyans chose their leaders in a free, peaceful and fair environment.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Friday declared results that show that President Uhuru Kenyatta got 54.3 per cent votes while Mr Raila Odinga had 44.7 per cent. So vital were the polls that East African heads of State reacted swiftly about the outcome, congratulating President Kenyatta on his re-election.

Presidents John Magufuli, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame and Pierre Nkurunziza congratulated Mr Kenyatta on being re-elected.

East Africans happy with Kenya polls

However, not only East African leaders are elated. So are the citizens in the region. It is understood that the first stanza of Tanzania’s national anthem invokes God to bless Africa and its leaders. It stresses the importance of wisdom, unity and peace.

All along Tanzanians have realised that their independence is meaningless if the rest of Africa is turbulent. That was why they sacrificed their meagre resources to ensure peace reigns continentally.

Tanzania campaigned against colonialism and racial discrimination, not only in Africa, but even other continents. It stood firm even for the Palestinian cause.

After all, Africa is one. Frontiers regarded as sacrosanct are nothing but lines drawn by imperialists during the 1884-85 Scramble for Africa in Berlin to occupy, balkanise and colonise the continent. It was a sinister machination to break up African power structures, preventing people from linking up, causing rivalries and fomenting misunderstandings.

It is sad that Africans have been waging wars over borders, arresting, prosecuting, convicting and deporting citizens of other countries who lack travel documents, terming them illegal immigrants.

When Africans were fighting for independence, they could cross borders easily and work together against their common enemies: colonialists.

It is strange that upon becoming independent, they began considering borders hallowed instead of smashing them.

We call on EAC leaders to speed up integration as a process towards a unified Africa and call Kenyans to maintain peace.