African Union on wrong course

Steve Paterno:February 5, 2009 — Once again the African Union (AU) has proven to be moving in the wrong direction from the principles it ought to adhere. For over fifty years, the five-decade-old continental organization still showing that it is created solely to protect African ruthless dictators. In the event of its annual summit, in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the organization first act of shamefulness was to allow itself to be chaired by another dictator, the Libyan Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Even though it has been a tradition for AU to be chaired by dictators, however, this time around, the AU chairmanship is been spectacularly dramatic, given the personality of Col. Gaddafi.To prove this, the summit was dominated by Col. Gaddafi flamboyancy and idiotic ambition. The summit ignored the conflicts, poverty, and diseases affecting the continent. Arriving at the summit completely covered in Arabian clown dress, Col. Gaddafi stood out among the crowd just like the real clown that he always portrays. As if he was not already clowning enough, Col. Gaddafi started off by circulating around a letter, declaring him as “king of the traditional kings of Africa” or “king of kings.” It is ironic at the same time laughable that an Arab with a funny looking huge head from the Mediterranean desert could end up being king of traditional kings of Africa. (Perhaps this is possible, because of an Obama’s era or phenomenon which is having its effect felt all over, including in Africa).Being the chairman of the summit, Col. Gaddafi got an opportunity to quickly push on with his idiotic ambition to rule the entire continent of Africa under the silly idea of United States of Africa. The fact that the countries in Africa may share some characteristics, it doesn’t in anyway mean that all those countries can be united under one government, especially when the government is dictatorship in nature and style. In their own little countries, the African leaders face daunting tasks of running those little countries under one government, leave alone even two countries uniting under one government. Not only that, Africa do have places which are still far from being countries as they don’t even have governments or anything that resembles a single rule. Therefore, the talk of United States of Africa, as is perfectly put by one commentator is a “ludicrous fantasy on the part of Col. Gaddafi.”The Col. Gaddafi illusionists may argue that if the United States of America (USA) can grow into fifty states, Africa can do likewise. But the question is, how come Canada, which shares almost every characteristics with the USA does not become part of the USA or for that matter how come Mexico does not join into the union with the USA and Canada as one sovereign nation? The illusionists of Col. Gaddafi ilk should also be reminded of the bitter split of the almighty Soviet Union before they may try to make comparisons of the silly idea of United States of Africa with other faraway places. Or better yet, they can study the recent history of Balkans if they so care.Col. Gaddafi found the bitter truth at the summit from none other than his colleagues that his idea is not only silly but is as clown as he is. The idea was rejected outright by all his colleagues, some of whom all along fearing to anger him, given his money and influence that he spread around to sustain the AU and dictatorship around the continent of Africa.In frustrations as a result of defeat, Col. Gaddafi reported to have literally knocked his head against a big table in a repeated motion, and then stormed out of the summit. Full of anger, Col. Gaddafi was only to speak to the reporters outside the summit hall, condemning the notion of democracy in Africa as a colonial importation. Col. Gaddafi insisted that his tyrannical country of Libya should serve as a model for the United States of Africa. Obviously, the Col. must be told that the principle of democracy is a universal one that must apply and be enjoyed by every single individual regardless of their places of origins, and that tyrannical rule like the ones in Libya must be rejected and fought at all cost, especially in this twenty first century.Of course, the AU should not be expected to serve the interest of the African people or the continent of Africa at large. In conclusion of its summit, its leaders felt like they have offended their financier, Col. Gaddafi enough. They tried to appease him by trying to change the name of the organization, adding the term “Authority” in the acronym as if that will change the way this organization has been operating for the last five decades. It is not in the name that things got done or changed. The fact is that this is neither the first time this defunct organization embarked in name change or nor the first time it failed the people or the continent it claims to be representing.Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at
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