The earliest reference to the United States of Africa was by Marcus Garvey who wrote in his poem Hail! United States of Africa, “Hail! United States of Africa-free! Hail! Motherland most bright, divinely fair. State in perfect sisterhood united…”
Since Garvey, the idea of the United States of Africa has been tossed around by various leaders but many have dismissed it as a fantasy. This has not stopped some very iconic Pan-Africanists from championing the union of nations.
Gaddafi and Mugabe
Libya’s Gaddafi assumed the rotating African Union chairmanship in 2009 and in his inaugural speech said, “I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa.” He had proposed the idea in 1999 as a means to the end of conflict and neo-colonialism.
In 2010, he then said, “I am satisfied that Africa is going along its historic and right road. One day it will become similar to the United States of America.”
After Gaddafi’s death, Zimbabwe’s former leader, Robert Mugabe took the baton and ran with it, even being quoted as saying, “Get them to get out of the regional shell and get into one continental shell.”
In an earlier article, we detailed Gaddafi’s push for the United States of Africa.
Toure, Nkrumah and Keita
Decades before Gaddafi proposed the formation of the United States of Africa in 1999, an attempt had been made by Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah and Modibo Keita through the Union of African States. This was an attempt at creating a nucleus for the United States of Africa but it was so loosely constituted that it was doomed to fail.
Kwame Nkrumah did not give up but went for the jugular in a speech he gave a day before the formation of the Organization of African Unity. He said, “Only a united Africa functioning under a union government can forcefully mobilize the material and moral resources of our separate countries…” He emphasized the fact that the union could forge a political union based on defense, foreign affairs, a common citizenship, an African currency, an African monetary zone and an African central bank.
Nkrumah left a chilling warning in his 1963 speech: “We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one and a half centuries of political independence.”
Will Africa regret ignoring Nkrumah, Toure, Keita, Gaddafi and Mugabe?