Sunday, July 21, 2019
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AFRICAN PASSPORT

By Hassan Abtidon

African Passport, Trade and People’s mobility are overdue to Africa modern history. Africa is moving in the direction of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for his Pan-African dream of solid African unity.   African Union Treaty came into force after the 53 Heads of State in Lusaka the capital of Zambia signed it on Saturday May 26, 2001. A new Pan-African body, the African Union, formally came to existence and replaced the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

African Union has unveiled a new passport earlier this week that will allow citizens to cross between its member states without visas. It was revealed a new Pan-African passport at the opening of its summit in kigali Rwanda.

The new electronic, biometric passport will eventually allow members of the 54 nations on the continent except Morocco to move freely between borders similar to the way the Schengen area works in the European Union.

Currently, only heads of states, ministers of foreign affairs and permanent representatives of AU member states based at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are eligible for the common African passport and it will be available to all African citizens beginning 2020.

Qadafi Libya
Former Libyan leader, President Qadafi

The new body modeled on the European Union. Though the idea barks to Pan-Africa aspiration of the 1959s, but this time the former President of Libya, Muammer Gadafi had been the prime mover behind the new union. He suggested a United States of Africa at a special summit in Sirte Libya in 1999.

There were three plans how to make this great achievement. Besides Libya the other two came from South Africa and Senegal. In compromise the three plans were merged together to become African Union.

The African Union, based in Addis Ababa like the body it replaces, will aim to unify the 54 African member states politically, socially and economically. The delegates at the 37th Ordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of Heads of States voted unanimously to replace the OAU with new African Union.

Underlying this new union is MAP, the Millennium African Plan. It’s a broad plan, intended to encourage peace, democracy and development. The new ingredient is a consensus on a liberal economic policy. MAP calls for a new emphasis on economic governance.

Since de-colonization began in over 50 years ago, these fragmented African Communities have sought to create a common bond through the organization of African Unity. Before the formation of the organization of African Unity, the newly African States divided into two groups with different ideas how to form African Unity.

Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

There were those countries that believed in the immediate unity of Africa. These countries were originally Ghana, Guinea, and Mali and later joined by Egypt, the Transitional Government of Algeria and Morocco, known as Casablanca Group. The other was known the Twenty-Four-member Monrovia Group or in other words Conservatives, which included Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Togo and many others believed in a much more gradual approach to the question of African unity.

In May 1963 these two opposing groups were able to come together to form the Organization of African Unity. Dr Kwame Nkrumah , introduced to the African Conference in Addis Ababa, the concept and the need for united African States but agreed the Organization of African Unity by the Heads of Independent African States. On May 25, 1963 the Organization of African Unity came to being.

Kwame Nkrumah, who proclaimed Ghana Independence in 1957, promoted Pan-Africanism as a way for the continent to regain dignity and economic strength after being colonized. The Pan African Movement says that the creation of the African Union brings Nkrumah’s dream of a common African currency, foreign policy, defense structure and economic program close to reality.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah became an international symbol of freedom as the leaders of the first Black Country to shake off the chain of the colonial rule. As midnight struck on March 5, 1957 and gold Coast became Ghana, Nkrumah declared: we are going to see that we create our own African Personality and dignity.

We again rededicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa; for our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent. In 1964 he declared himself president for life and banned opposition parties. To justify his action he said, even a system based on a democratic constitution may need backing up in the period following independence by emergency measures of a totalitarian kind.

Many Ghanaians celebrated when the police and military overthrew their former hero while he was on a visit to China in 1966. There was little response to Nkrumah’s broadcast calling for the nation to rise against the coup leaders. He died in exile in Romania in 1972.

Nkrumah was born Kwame Francis Nwia Kofie in the southwest of the Gold Coast 1909. In 1939 he went to USA to study economics and sociology. There and in London he was active in the Pan African  Movements, which was demanding freedom and independence for the African colonies.

Nkrumak returned to his homeland in 1947 and became secretary general of the United Gold Coast Convention, which was campaigning to end British rule. However, in 1948 he was expelled from the organization for leading a campaign of civil disobedience. He responded by founding the Convention People’s Party in 1949, the first mass politically party in black Africa.

Imprisoned by the British in 1950, he was released the next year after the CPP’s landslide election victory. In 1952 Nkrumah became the country’s first Prime Minister. After independence in 1957 Ghana became a republic in 1960.

But while Nkrumah worked to improve living standards at home his ambitions extended beyond national boundaries to the creation of a federal union of Africa States. He explained his vision in his 1961 book. The title is All for one and one for all.

He believed independence of some countries is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African Continent. He said, divided we are weak, united; Africa could become one of the greatest for good in the world.

He believed strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a great power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded no hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind.

However, few of the newly independent African countries were persuaded of the need to give up some of the power they had won recently, to a central parliament for the continent. Ghana was one of 32 nations that founded the Organization of African Unity in 1963. But Nkrumah regarded it as inadequate as it awes not the United States of Africa he longed for.

After 38 years the African leaders adopted the concept of Kwame Nkrumah, which is Africa under one federal government.  African Union formed its first Pan-African parliament on March 18, 2004 and while the long-term aim is for the parliament to exercise full legislative powers, its current mandate is to exercise advisory and consultative powers.

The Pan-African parliament has up to 250 members representing the 50 AU member states that have ratified the protocol and allocated 5 seats per state. The parliamentarian tenure of office corresponds to his or her own national parliament term.

The Pan-African court of justice of African Union has never into existence because the African Union has decided to merge with the African court on human and peoples’ rights to form a new integrated court to   function together.

The last several decades, there are big changes in Africa, the 54 countries in Africa, have elected government, and many have a growing economies, and expanding their business markets. More than 80 percent of the 54 countries in Africa rates with trade expansion within and around the world. Majority of African countries recorded of more than three percent. That is well above the world average and expects better growth as this momentum goes on.

Remarkable number of countries is consolidating stable, multi-party democracies. These facts contrasts sharply with the stereotypical image of Africa as helpless ravage by famine, ethnic conflicts, coups and natural disaster that make it a permanent case for the emergency ward. Instead, they testify to a resourceful people and able to eke out a meaningful existence in the transitional period of world of economic crisis.

Hassan Abtidon
Email: [email protected]

 


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