By Asiimwe Stephen
The future of Africa, the modernisation of Africa that has a place in the 21st Century is linked up with its decolonisation and detribalisation. Tribal activism would be giving up any hope of Africa.
And of all the sins that Africa can’t commit, the sin of despair would be the most unforgivable, my generation led Africa to political freedom.
The current generation of leader’s and people of Africa must pick up the flickering torch of freedom, refuel it with their enthusiasm and determination and carry it forward, Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
By 1900, the journey to integrate the region began, with establishment of a Customs Collection Centre for Uganda in Mombasa, the currency Board in Kenya 1905, 1917 to 1922 they established Customs Union between Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, 1948 High Commission established, 1961 Common Services Organization started and eventually 1967 Treaty establishing the Community signed and collapsed in 1977.
Regional integration is essentially a political process, in the sense that what drives integration is mainly rooted in nation-state power over economic and political interests. (Bujra 2003: p.1& 6).
It follows, therefore, that national political support for integration is central to the successful realisation of integration objectives understanding the dynamics of such support is important in determining the viability and prospects of any regional integration project.
Indeed in the specific case of the East African Community (EAC), the capacity to understand and appreciate the dynamics of national politics and thereby bolster greater political support for integration.
So as we celebrate Independence, we examine the history, role and impact of the Nation-state and non-state actors on the East African Community integration. The revival of the East African integration, after the unfortunate events that led to the disbanding of the former EAC in 1997, crystallised on November 30, 1999 with the signing of the treaty for the establishment of the East African Community.
The treaty entered into force on July 7, 2000, this renewal of integration was mainly based on two core factors; the first being the increased long standing historical, economic, political linguistic and cultural ties and linkages amongst the people of East Africa, the second one is the hard reality that in globalised world, small economic entities are not only unviable but also have scant of surviving at all against the giant economic blocks of Asia, European Union and America.
Article 5(2) of the treaty that establishes the East African Community, undertake to establish among themselves Custom Union, a Common Market subsequently Monetary Union and ultimately Political Federation, the establishment of the Customs Union in 2004 and its coming into force in 2005 marked a key milestone and entry point in deepening the East African Federation.
The protocols establishing the Common Market was signed by all partner states in 2009 and came into force on July 21, 2010.
This allows free movement of labour among the partner states out of realisation that the community would face challenges, the partner states established the Wako Committee (former Attorney General of Kenya) to do research and establish concrete proposals on how to fast truck the East African Community, the private sector, which play important role, and Involvement of civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, including trade unions, media houses, company limited liabilities, human rights groups, professional organizations, religious organizations, etc.
The Vision of EAC is a prosperous, competitive, secure, stable and politically united East Africa, and the Mission is to widen and deepen Economic, Political, Social and cultural integration in order to improve on the quality of life of the people of East Africa through increased competitiveness, valued added production and trade and investment.
It is important to note that East Africans and particularly Ugandans are very innovative and creative in that sense of doing businesses. Therefore, if we put more emphasis on the federation project, we achieve to fundamental advantages;
First, we would tap out ready sources of revenue, it is easier to penetrate neighbouring markets than Europe and America, we can also export as one country and be able to negotiate in the ever lop sided markets available in the world.
Secondly, the political federation would offer us a cure of the big republic as postulated by James Madison- the father of the American Constitution.
In the federalist No. 10, he wrote that the best remedy to the threat of faction would be found in a bigger republic than smaller one, since Madison was writing in a largely homogeneous community, we can safely assume that our equipment to his factions are ethnic group, he reasoned that there are only two remedies to the threat of factions; either you remove its causes, or control its effects, to put the Chagga’s of Tanzania, the Kikuyus’s of Kenya, the Banyankore/Baganda, in Uganda, the Hutu/Tusti in Burundi and Rwanda and probably Dinka’s in South Sudan would have to find a better patform to sell their ideas rather than members of their community alone.
I use this merely as examples; their sheer numbers shall have been effectively diluted within the more than 130 million East Africans.
Let us direct our energies in building a viable community that will stand a taste of time, the achievement of the community are enormous, social, political and economic, the main being building confidence among member states and accelerating and domesticating the pillars of the community.
- Customs Union
- Common Market
- Monetary Union
- Political Federation
Currently the catch word is now people centred; we must aspire to make it a point that people own the community. As Amilcar Cabral said “Tell no lies and claims not easy Victories”, the recent misunderstanding between Rwanda and Tanzania should be settled and Uganda Vs Kenya on Migingo quarrels should just cease otherwise these squabbles threaten the community and we may repeat history.
The writer is a Pan Africanist and Member of Vision East African Forum