How Africa almost became United States of Africa under a union government

United State of Africa (U.S.A) is an idea that houses the federation of the African sovereign states and disputed territories. The concept could also be traced back to Marcus Garvey’s 1924 poem Hail, United States of Africa.

In the 60’s, some promising number of leader in Africa shared an idea and dream of forming a United State of Africa, an idea that see to the unification of African continent in a single 53-state federation. This was at a time when majority of African affairs were sweeping under the authority of the European and British colonizers.

In 1957, Ghana’s freedom fighter, Dr Kwame Nkrumah was first to expressed the idea after the Britain granted Ghana’s independence. In the same year, the All-African Peoples Conference was organized by Nkrumah as well.

According to Hakim Adi’s book Pan-Africanism: A History, the purpose of the conference is to enable participants to explore ways of working together across the continent to ensure the end of colonial rule. At the conference, Nkrumah urged African states to consider steps aimed at strengthening economic cooperation and at establishing a shared foreign policy.

With support from leaders of Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Mali and Libya, Egypt, and Tanzania after the second All-African People’s Conference, which otherwise known as the Casablanca group, Nkrumah advocated for a federation of all African states to be called the United States of Africa. The Peoples Project reported that Nkrumah was motivated by the Marcus Garvey’s 1924 poem, Hail, United States of Africa.

However, while these leaders (Casablanca group) believed in the idea of swift harmonization of Africa continent through the USA, other African leaders such as Senegal’s Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal and the Nigerian, Liberian and Ethiopian leaders, otherwise called the Monrovia group, suggested a gradual process of a unified Africa.

Following the disagreement between the  two groups,  the then  king of Morocco, Haile Selassie sponsored a meeting between African leaders where 32 leaders of independent African countries met to decide the future of African unity.

During the meeting, the Casablanca group was bent on the implementation of Nkrumah’s move, as they aimed at sweeping away any colonialist and imperialist traces. The Monrovia group insisted that the achievement of African cooperation should be prerequisite for African unity.

In 1964 New York Times report reported that: “Africans would disagree with immediate union because they fear that the driving ego-centricity of Nkrumah could lead to his becoming the United States of Africa’s first, and perhaps permanent, ” president of United States of Africa.

However, in 2006 again, debate came up in the 9th Ordinary Session of the newly formed African Union (AU) in Accra, with the intention to deliberate the establishment of a union that will eventually birth the United States of Africa. According History today, with support of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, the resolution at the session proposed a unified military force in the continent, a single currency and a single passport for Africans.

Moreover, People’s Project media reported that the heated session at the A.U parliament in Accra again  failed to actualize the dream of United States of Africa, albeit agreement were reached by the heads of state to enable swift economic and political integration within African states, and then plan a timeframe for the establishment of the proposed United States of Africa with the participation of Africans and the diaspora.

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, different committees were formed to deliberate and prepare for the transformation of the African Union Commission into the African Union Authority, a union which will be led by secretaries, presidents and vice presidents to bring the dream of U.S.A into reality.

But as the major advocates of the move, including Gaddafi and Mugabe, have been kicked out of power, the idea of the United States of Africa still lingers, and the dreams of Pan-Africanism still hang between the capabilities of the African Union and the will of Africans themselves.

Writer, journalist, and legal researcher, Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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