The African Union (AU): A Dwarf on Giant’s Shoulders

Africa as a continent has not progressed as one would have expected of a continent so blessed with numerous talents and abundant natural resources. This does not imply in any sense that other continents (North America, South America, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, and Europe) are a million years ahead. Development is a relative term. Each continent has a different history which has either enhanced or deterred it’s growth.

Image: Geographical map of Africa.

A lot has been said of Africa being the home of human civilization starting about 7 million years ago, having provided humanity with the first use of fire, tools, fishing, astronomy, and agriculture to list but a few.

The world’s earliest civilization, referring to recorded history, arose from Egypt. The African continent and black race in general has produced renowned scientists, professors, technicians, musicians and more who contributed in various ways to make the world a better place.

Nevertheless, the purpose of this writing is on the AU’s (African Union) general development of Africa rather than the individual contributions of its regional organizations.

We shall not look at Africa in retrospect, therefore less will be said in this discuss about slave trade and colonization which can be seen as a blessing or a  curse depending on one’s orientation.

Permit me to digress a little but hold me responsible for my thoughts.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a book written by Walter Rodney (1972). He argued that it was a deliberate and calculated attempt by the European superpowers to exploit and drain Africa of its resources through colonial regimes. It is agreeable as well as arguable that colonialism underdeveloped the African continent.

The struggle for power among the European colonialists and the economic exploitation resulted in the taunted growth of African states.

The colonial governments was a make-shift plan changed and modified as the need arose to suit the goals of our “masters”.

Development of Africa, at the time power was relinquished to Africans, was not a priority to the colonialists. This was evident in the amalgamation of different African states with diverse languages, culture, tradition, religion and education as one country. Nigeria stands a good example in this regard.

It is not uncommon, even in developed countries, to have tribes with different religions, culture or tradition. Ours is different because the civil wars and political tussles which became the aftermath of independence was carefully planned and executed by the colonialists.

Europe carelessly laid down the political and economic foundations on which Africa was built. Therefore, the inherent underdevelopment among African states is an outcome of the errors committed by the colonial regimes.

Can Africa win this fight and release itself from the shackles of underdevelopment?

Yes. In Rodney’s opinion, the only way to a complete human development and freedom for every African state is through rejection of foreign rule which had superimposed it’s government on Africa. This was a call for nationalism and democracy for Africa. Independence of African states and the establishment of African Union (AU) is the greatest leap taken so far.

From this backdrop, emphasis will be placed on the African Union as an instrument for continental development.

The African Union (AU) – “A United and Strong Africa” is a continental organization and the largest union of states in Africa shouldered with the responsibility to push the continent toward peace and prosperity. It is made up of 54 independent countries excluding Morocco which is not a member. Burkina Faso and Central African Republic had their memberships cancelled due to coup d’etat and civil war respectively.

This union was formed as a remedial force that should tackle the shortcomings of its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) established in May 25, 1963.

Late Muammar al-Gaddafi spear-headed the formation of AU with his proposal  in May 9, 1999 which was subsequently discussed at summits by representatives and Heads of States leading to a formal declaration of the African Union (AU) on May 26, 2001 in Addis Ababa.

Africa, to many who are ill-informed, is synonymous with poverty, cannibalism, diseases, crime and backwardness.

History has been twisted and the truth has been hidden for ages. The media successfully sold this wrong information and Africa is paying dearly for it.  An average African believes, in error, that we are “divinely” created to receive everything negative just as the media confirmed. In the eyes of the world, Africa must accept the “divine curse” which in fact, is a baseless assertion.

Colonialists are not gods. They are heartless men and women who drew breath just like everyone. They have blood in their veins; they eat and poop like all – my due respect given to the “dead masters”.

The religion, education, roads and technology brought down to Africa was for the sole aim of enhancing their exploitation of the continent’s raw materials which, in turn, was used to develop Europe. Colonialism is evil.

If Europe had a genuine concern for the development of Africa, what is the contribution made in the fight against Boko Haram and Al-Shabab? What was the stand taken by Europe -and U.S.- during the bloody civil wars which ravaged the country?

Why are the foreign conglomerates taking pleasure in overthrowing African governments or inciting civil unrest to achieve their economic goals even in the 21st Century? It is clear that “independence” does not mean freedom.

Long after the eradication of colonial rule, Africa has continuously lived in direct or indirect bondage, dancing to the whims and caprices of former “masters”. “He who pays the piper dictates the tunes”. As long as Africa is still dependent on Europe or America for capital flights or economic aid, we shall have to answer “yes, sir” in political, military and economic issues which demand bold decisions. Development is not given for the asking of it.

The goals set by AU are like giant steps, from a “dwarf”, but in the right direction. African Union is not comparable to the European Union (EU) for the fact that Africa has been faced with major setbacks: distorted history, civil wars, brain drain, corruption, unemployment, dependency on foreign goods, political instability, dominance of foreign capital, military intervention in politics and terrorism. Though Europe has been alleged to be playing a part in these obstacles to greatness, the big questions are:

  • Has the member states government played their expected roles towards a united and deserving Africa?
  • Has the leadership of African Union taken the right decisions  and provided a timely solution to these factors militating against the rise of African continent?

The establishment of AU is a stepping stone to greater heights no matter how it’s achievements are scored. It is better late than never.

“The AU has clearly had reasonable successes through its direct contribution and collaboration with the international community to settling and minimizing conflicts in some of the region’s hotbeds, such as trouble spots in the Sudan, resolving post-election violent conflicts in Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, and forcing military coup-makers to hand back power to civilian regimes”.

In 2014, African Union played an active role with the support of other world organizations in the fight against Ebola outbreak which was spreading across Africa.

The African Union and UNICEF has sponsored a campaign against polio, malaria, tuberculosis and similar killer diseases. Immunization vaccines are given free to every child and pregnant mother while volunteers are paid by the union.

Africa need to rise against the media and take the “bull” by the horn. The crusade for total liberation in politics, military and economy should start now. We need equal rights; human rights protections and eradication of racism in all it’s ramifications.

Equality and equity should be the watchword of every sensible human being no matter the color, religion or race.

It baffles me to know that every picture of Satan has remained black while every picture of Jesus is white or “albino”? Africa has been dragged to the mud and it is within our powers to either get up or remain there forever.

My gratitude to those artistes of African race who have, through their movies, exposed the evils done to Africa. In my personal estimation, about 90 percent of Hollywood movies portrays blacks as criminals, drug-peddlers, gangsters, prostitutes, corrupt police officers, incompetent leaders and rapists.

These movies – “12 Years A Slave” and “Dejango Unchained” – are few examples of movies which deeply told the true story of cruelty against the black race and more importantly, how blacks could be manipulated by greed or otherwise, against fellow blacks. Grammy Awards given to these people is a pat on the shoulder.

African indigenous movie makers like Nollywood and Ghallywood need to borrow a leaf from the positives. Movies depicting evil and ritualism should be kept at the barest minimum. Emphasis should be placed on creating and presenting the true values of the African continent to the world.


The local realities facing Africa is a great factor to be taken into consideration if the African Union is to favorably compete against the world powers and salvage the image, prestige or glory of Africa.

The governments need the selfless support of every citizen just as the African Union (AU) deserve the loyalty and commitment of every member state.

All Africans, states, regions and governments should put behind, their secondary pursuits for the primary and greater good of all which is a proud, united and progressive Africa. Africa’s development should be given a priority in each country’s foreign policy.

Importantly, all Africans should support the redemption of this great continent in words and deeds wherever they are.

A dwarf is not far-sighted but a dwarf of a giant’s shoulders sees beyond. Africa is a giant and so much is expected of the “dwarf” on it’s shoulders.

The dwarf and the giant must recognize their god-given powers as well as understand that each needs the other if they are to achieve greatness.

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