African unification: law, problems and prospects
Title of the book: African Unification: Law, Problems and Prospects
Author: Kofi Oteng Kufuor, Professor of Law at the University of East London
Publisher: Carolina Academic Press
Year of publication: 2016
Reviser: Nana KA Busia, Jr.
For some time now, Pan-Africanism as the ultimate unification of the states of the African continent to form a sovereign federal entity has been an ideal whose realization has been discussed and debated at summits of political leaders, freedom fighters, activists. and others.
From around 1900, there were Pan-African World Conferences designed as congresses aimed at bringing together Africans from the continent and those in the diaspora to agree on a common strategy to ultimately realize the Pan-African vision of the United States of America. Africa.
There have been eight such Pan-African World Congresses, the last one being held in Accra, Ghana, in 2015.
The common assumption shared by all Pan-Africanists on varied perspectives and beliefs is that the unification of African states, if achieved, would strengthen the economic, political and even security role of Africa as a marginalized region within of the world system.
As might be expected, academics and researchers from various disciplines have also contributed to the Pan-African discourse on the analysis of what Pan-Africanism is and should be and why the dream has not been realized so far. . This problem naturally led researchers to ask several questions and research proposals.
Specifically, over the years the questions posed by academics have been whether unification should be gradual, focusing primarily on economic integration, which will functionally lead to political union; or rather is unification built on regional blocs, such as ECOWAS, SADCC, EGAD, EAC and others?
Also, should Pan-Africanists be satisfied with a minimalist objective of creating African unity instead of adopting a maximalist position of continental unification of the United States of Africa as a sovereign state?
Kofi Oteng Kufuor, Professor of Law at the University of East London, is an academic who has attempted to answer these questions comprehensively in his book “African Unification: Law, Problems and Prospects”, published in 2016. The Professor Kufuor uses an interdisciplinary approach to accomplish this mammoth task.
According to the author, as early as the 1870s, the concept of a supranational entity of all African states from West Africa had been proposed by a Liberian intellectual, Edward Blyden.
Following such proposals, the book cites a few pre-colonial attempts that sought to translate Blyden’s concept into practice, such as the British West African National Congress (NCBWA) established in 1917.
In this attempt, the author draws attention to the fragmentation of the concept of Pan-Africanism and the lack of clarity and cohesion among academics and political actors and activists of the time.
The book places much more emphasis on the post-colonial era.
Significantly, the formation of the Organization of the African Union (OAU) in 1963 is assessed in terms of its constituent instruments and the treaty to examine the extent to which it sought to achieve African unification.
In this regard, Professor Kufuor concludes that “the OAU has become an antithesis of the concept of unification, given the sovereignty and protection clauses of its founding charter”. He concedes that the successor body, the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU), 2002 made some improvements to the OAU Charter, but it was also haunted by the ghost of the OAU and its deference to sovereignty and the non-interference clauses of the AU Constitutive Act. Law of 2002.
Professor Kufuor having established the striking fact that the unification of Africa has not been successful due to resistance from some AU members, then analyzes why this has been so.
In the analysis, he draws on theories and models of the social and legal sciences to explain the challenges and it is here that his work deviates from standard arguments in the literature and
focuses on new interpretations.
Several factors are examined and attributed as the causes of the failure of the African unification project. First, the fact that in Europe, European intellectuals had argued for European unification as a quasi-federal system a few centuries ago and that part of European social history imprinted in the social memory of the population.
Second, the rise of the Roman Empire and the role of the Catholic Church and the promulgation of canon laws laid the foundations for a legal regime common to all European nations: the jus genitium.
Third, the argument is also made that in Africa, the creation of sub-regional blocs hampers the ability of the AU to achieve the continental unification of Africa, as they act as centripetal forces pushing the sub-regions apart. of the central continental authority, the AU. . The functions of the AU are also duplicated by the sub-regional organs of ECOWAS, SADCC, EAC, EGAD etc.
Fourth, the author as a scientist is in pursuit of scientific truisms. In this regard, he discovers in his research that violence offers an opportunity that breaks the bonds of the old order and inaugurates new political and constitutional dispensations.
The United States is the classic example of how, after the violent Civil War, a new order was cemented as an indissoluble federation with the sovereignty of previous sovereign units decisively and ultimately subsumed to the federal order and new arrangements; in 1868 there was a 14th Amendment to the US Constitution that consolidated the federal order.
So it was this war that ended the question of whether the United States was a union of independent states in which each unit could claim sovereignty at will, or whether it was a de jure one. single permanent entity.
On the question of the irony of violence leading to political unity, the author argued that the EU’s success as a supranational entity was due in part to World War II in 1945.
In fact, a number of theorists are invoked to support this theory of discontinuous change and political orders resulting from violence.
In contrast, in Africa, he argued that “a feature of decolonization in Africa was that there had been no discontinuous change. Instead, the disintegration of empires was slow, and the consequence of this model of decolonization was that stable institutions that privileged state sovereignty over new types of institutions remained intact. “
Professor Oteng Kufuor strives to argue, drawing on theoretical models and empirical examples from around the world, that for African unification to be achieved as Pan-Africanists envision, intense violent struggles should have been the midwife in order to have allowed a collapse with the past.
This is an impressive book on Pan-Africanism and African unification, but there are still a few lingering issues that the book has not addressed. For example, if violent revolutions were the means that could have helped the unification of Africa, then how to explain the protracted and violent struggles in the SADCC region in particular, even though they still operate within the framework of the sub-regional unit?
Professor Kufuor, however, says that by the time the African colonies of Portugal fought and gained independence in this region in the 1970s, the question of unification had long been settled and these developments did not therefore not had as much of an impact on the rupture of the old order which could have advanced unification.
There is also a debate that has been gaining ground for about five years now, that Pan-Africanism or continental unification is different from Pan-Africanism, which is a unification of people of Negroid descent found mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and that the two are markedly different and the agenda is to pursue the latter as far as possible and reject the former. This debate is unfortunately absent from Professor Kufuor’s treatise.