Thu, May 5, 2016
Haiti is set to join the African Union come June. Despite being geographically disconnected with the region Haiti shares some political and cultural ties with Africa and the union could be of mutual benefit to the two.
Barely five years since the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed and some of the ideologies he and other Pan-African leaders like Nelson Mandela among others stood for are being actualized; Haiti is set to join the African Union (AU) in June.
Although the deposed leader who met his death while hiding in a culvert west of Sirte, held some ideologies that did not resonate well with Africa and the rest of the world, he argued and hoped that one day there would be a United States of Africa.
In his 2009 speech in Tripoli as the AU's new chairman, Col Gaddafi said the United States of Africa could include "Caribbean islands with African populations" such as Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
Eight years down the line since his speech, Haiti is set to become a member of the AU at the next meeting that will take place in Lilongwe, Malawi this June. When admitted to the regional body, Haiti will be the first nation with no geographical connection to join the continent.
Despite being miles away and having no geographical ties to Africa, the Caribbean state has some cultural and political links the region.
Other than the fact that Haiti is a predominantly Black inhabited country, the country also has had to endure decades of disaster, violence and economic challenges just like many other countries in Africa. Haiti gained its independence in 1804 when a group of slaves overtook the French to earn the nation’s freedom. It became the world’s first independent black nation and used this independence and membership to the United Nations to support decolonization in Africa.
The African love for Haiti came to light, especially when the country was hit by devastating earthquake that killed many Haitians and left tens of thousands more in dire need for basic amenities. The continent pledged $8 million towards Haiti with nations like Senegal offering free land and Haitian students a place at its university.
At the 2010 AU summit, the Chairperson Jean Ping told Haitians they were free to come back to Africa is they so wanted. “We have an attachment and link to that country. The first Black Republic…that carried high the flame of liberation and freedom for black people and has paid a heavy price in so doing,” said Jean Ping.
The country is plagued by instability and violence while its population languishes in nameless misery. The country heavily relies on foreign aid and has been labeled as one of the poorest countries in the world.
There are several options available for the Caribbean state that will help boost its economy. By joining the AU, the nation could be included in the debt cancellation scheme and benefit from the China-AU investments as Haiti currently attracts very little direct investments.
The union will also facilitate free trade between Haiti and other members of the African Union.
The decision to join AU is Haiti’s journey to recovery after the earthquake that took the country’s economic strides backwards.
Gaddafi also envisaged a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent. Although his ideologies are yet to become a reality, Africa will in time get to a place where travelling from one country to another will be made easier especially with the Agenda 2063.
For Africa to achieve the African Union’s vision there is a need for “an Integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”, significantly more action is still required on a number of fronts.
Kajuju Murori is an enthusiastic writer with a bias towards development stories that ignite positive change among individuals in the society.
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