A Celebration of The East African Community and Continental Unity – By Andrew Othieno
By Andrew Othieno; 26th July, 2011
Africa is an entity whose unique intelligence was distorted by external influence so much that what was initially one loosely integrated whole (though totally oblivious to its grandeur) is now an enigmatic quagmire trying in vain to coordinate the use of different (multiple) but integral parts (resources) whose strength, health, wealth, and unsurpassed abundance and interconnectedness have been delusionally blurred and rendered seemingly useless.
Hindsight clearly shows that “they” carved out vestments for us (i.e., cut our coat according to their own cloth), which we may have rightfully found to be suitable for the gruesome circumstances then. Considering the progression of events over the years, though, those old vestments (e.g., non-existent borders, self-defeating competition, suppressive dependence, unfair terms of trade, an inverted global hierarchy, etc) have become nothing but thorns in our flesh.
Retrospectively, the perseverance and determination of our fore-father’s generation successfully broke the “shackles”, thus bestowing upon us the blessing of that much-needed national pride. With the enlightenment we have gained, in this day and age, it is time for our generation to see the bigger picture; seize the mantle, and lay a solid foundation for continent-wide cohesion that will eternally stand the test of time. However, before embarking on this humongous task by strategically laying out a solid framework for action, we need to start by asking each other, and ourselves, one important question so as to achieve the impetus for that much-needed will-power. That vital question is this; “One Africa”? If we do achieve common ground…after several years of contemplation, open debate, careful calculation, and strategizing…and agree to courageously take up the challenge and embark on this sacred mission, we definitely have the ability to reinstate the world’s oldest civilization – that royal cradle of mankind – back up on its rightful throne.
Fathers, and Mothers, Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters, and indeed well-wishers elsewhere; the time has come for us to have the courage to totally disrobe (i.e., “cut our own coat according our own cloth”) and carve out anew ONE vestment, which will embrace the multiplicity of our ethnicity, our wide scope of geography, and our multifaceted but unifiable institutional perspectives. ONE vestment, which will give our voice the volume, respect, dignity, and empowerment it rightfully deserves on the map of human geography, thus transforming the image (painful to us as it may be!) that has almost permanently been etched on the world’s mind, that is, of Africa standing as a huge baobab tree whose branches, even as they stand on the same stem, are fighting each other. This will truly be the first step towards a cure from that centuries-old chronic disease of needless fragmentation; a disease that was inflicted upon us, and has rendered us partially blind and almost deaf to our muffled cries to each other as we daily choke and gasp for air.
On the Eastern side of the continent, though, we have made and continue to make commendable progress in the direction towards unity. We took on the challenge, and asked ourselves that vital question; One East Africa? Thus far it has been twelve years of contemplation, open debate, careful calculation, and strategizing. We have properly achieved common ground, and we have mutually agreed to courageously take up the challenge and embark on this sacred mission. On our side of the Continent we are proving to ourselves, and to the rest of Africa, that we do have the ability to reinstate the world’s oldest civilization – that royal cradle of mankind – back up on its rightful throne. Our political leadership has maintained a united front and, courtesy of the East African Community (EAC), we are slowly but surely treading on that path while simultaneously making great economics gains, and very soon we will have carved out that ONE vestment for ourselves, which, I am fully confident, will actually be the perfect blueprint for all other regions of Africa, after which – at the continental level – we shall be able to take it to the next step, i.e., region [North] by region [South] by region [East] by region [West] by region [Central]. A perfect example to illustrate the possibility and actual reality of this fact is the budding “COMESA-EAC-SADC” Tripartite.
To my fellow East Africans this is my message; even in our own small regional hub we seem to be hesitant to see, acknowledge, and embrace a fact that the rest of Africa is quietly sidelining, and that solid irrefutable fact is that we Africans are one flesh and one blood. Deny it as we may, however, the onus is on us, the ball is in our court, and it is we ourselves who will have to move step-by-step towards achieving that oneness. Those external “handshakes-with-handcuffs” that come from elsewhere will NOT do it for us! On that note, therefore, let us be proud of the fact that we are making commendable progress. It is not for nothing that we are currently pondering difficult questions such as “What next for East Africa,” not what next for Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda or Burundi alone. In essence, the direction of East Africa’s future is in my hands, your hands, and our hands together.
In the very long-term the EAC could be an important nucleus for a much bigger plan. For now, however, let us be fully cognizant of the fact that the EAC is placing a wonderful vision of East Africa’s future right in front of our very own eyes. Fellow East Africans let us be strong enough to see it, accept it, embrace it, champion it, and support it to the furthest extent possible. Thanks to the EAC’s leadership; our future is NOT tomorrow. Our Future is HERE.
Our Future is NOW!