United States of Africa
Former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was the 2009 Chairperson of the African Union (AU), advanced the idea of a United States of Africa at two regional African summits: first in June 2007 in Conakry, Guinea, and again in February 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Gaddafi had previously pushed for its creation at a summit at Lomé, Togo in 2000, having described the AU as a failure on a number of occasions; Gaddafi asserted that only a true pan-African state can provide stability and wealth to Africa. A number of senior AU members also support the proposed federation, believing that it could bring peace to a 'new' Africa. Alpha Oumar Konaré, former President of Mali and former Chairperson of the African Union Commission, spoke in favor of the concept at the commemoration of Africa Day, on May 25, 2006.
The "United States of Africa" was mentioned first by Marcus Garvey in his poem 'Hail, United States of Africa' in 1924. Garvey's ideas deeply influenced the birth of the Pan-Africanist movement which culminated in 1945 with the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, United Kingdom, attended by W. E. B. Du Bois, Patrice Lumumba, George Padmore, Jomo Kenyatta, Dudley Thompson, and Kwame Nkrumah. Later, Nkrumah and Haile Selassie took the idea forward to form the 37 nation Organisation of African Unity, the precursor of the African Union.
The idea of a multinational unifying African state was noted in the French publication Le Monde diplomatique as a successor to the medieval African empires: the Ethiopian Empire, the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, the Benin Empire, the Kanem Empire, and other historic nation states.
The proposed federation would have the largest total territory of any state, exceeding the Russian Federation. It would also be the third most populous state after China and India, and with a population speaking an estimated 2,000 languages.
In February 2009, upon being elected chairman of the 53-nation African Union in Ethiopia, Gaddafi told the assembled African leaders: "I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa." The BBC reported that Gaddafi had proposed "a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent". Other African leaders stated they would study the proposal's implications, and re-discuss it in May 2009.
The focus for developing the United States of Africa far has been on building subdivisions of Africa - the proposed East African Federation can be seen as an example of this. Former President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, has indicated that the United States of Africa may exist from as early as 2017. The African Union, by contrast, has set itself the task of building a "united and integrated" Africa by 2025. Gaddafi had also indicated that the proposed federation may extend as far west as the Caribbean: Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and other islands featuring a large African diaspora, may be invited to join.
The nations of Eritrea, Ghana, Senegal, Zimbabwe, and Cape Verde have supported an African federation. Others such as South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria have shown less interest in the idea. Support appears to be inversely proportional to a nation's power and influence. Doubts have been raised about whether the goal of a unified Africa can ever be achieved while ongoing problems of conflict and poverty persist throughout the continent.
Gaddafi also received criticism for his involvement in the movement, and lack of support for the idea from among other African leaders. A week before Gaddafi's death during the Libyan civil war, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed relief at the regime's downfall, complaining that Gaddafi had been "intimidating" many African heads of state in an effort to gain influence throughout the continent and suggesting that the African Union will function better without Gaddafi and his repeated proposals for a unitary African government.
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