United States of Africa
The United States of Africa is a proposed concept for a federation of some or all of the 54 sovereign states on the African continent. The concept takes its origin from Marcus Garvey's 1924 poem, Hail, 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 2000 summit in Lomé, Togo, 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 idea of a multinational unifying African state has been compared to various medieval African empires, including the Ethiopian Empire, the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, the Benin Empire, the Kanem Empire, and other historic nation states. During the late 19th and early 20th century the majority of African land was controlled by various European empires, with the British controlling around 30% of the African population at its peak.
The term "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.
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, had indicated that the United States of Africa could 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.
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.
After the death of Gaddafi
Gaddafi was ultimately killed during the Battle of Sirte in October 2011. While some regard the project to have died with him, Robert Mugabe has expressed interest in reviving the project. Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society criticised Mugabe's 2013 proposal. "It is a dream of totalitarian fantasists, not the people. Africa is becoming increasingly local. I'm in Kenya at the moment and the forthcoming election is all about ethnic arithmetic."
African integration generally has had a higher level of support among poorer, less developed, and smaller African countries versus less poor, more developed, and larger African countries.
The nations of Eritrea, Ghana, Senegal, and Zimbabwe, have supported an African federation. Others such as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and North African countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and post-revolution Libya 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.
Cape Verde was formerly in favour of an African federation, however as of 2014, it has been lessening its African integration. It is now focusing on European integration, as all other countries in the Macaronesian region are in the EU (Canary Islands, Azores, and Madeira). Furthermore, the majority of the people of Cape Verde do not consider themselves African, and have many cultural and genetic links to Portugal and the rest of Europe. In addition, Cape Verde was part of Portugal for 515 years. Over 70% of people in Cabo Verde are mixed (African and European.)
In addition, the vast majority of economic investment, aid, and tourism comes from Europe. The people of Cape Verde speak Portuguese, a European language. The leaders of Cape Verde have proposed withdrawing from ECOWAS, a West African integration organization.
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 the fictional Star Trek universe, the United States of Africa exist as a nation of the United Earth Government, within the Federation. Officer Uhura originates from the states as well as Geordi La Forge.
- African Union
- Arab Union
- Demographics of Africa
- Federal Europe
- Pan-African Parliament
- United States of Latin Africa
- Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League
- Hail, United States of Africa
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- Statement of the UA Commission Chairperson
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- United States of Africa - A Wishful Thinking, from AfricaLoft, republished 4 February 2009
- United States of Africa may take off in 2017, says Wade, from Guardian Newspapers, published 13 February 2009
- Gadhafi pledges 'United States of Africa', from msnbc, 2 February 2009
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- "Gaddafi calls for United States of Africa, one army". Mmegi Online. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- 'United States of Africa' Still an Idea Ahead of Its Time, from World Politics Review, 13 July 2007