Editorial from ROAPE Volume 28 Number 89
State of the Union: Africa in 2001
This edition of ROAPE (and its editorial) has been put together over a summer `silly season' that, in terms of global and African events, will have anything but trivial consequences for the future of Africa. In the early summer while the petrol bombs flew outside in Genoa, the cloistered representatives of the G-8 countries pushed their own agendas inexorably onwards. The New African Initiative (NAI) was thought up: yet another set of programmes, policies and projects to be foisted on the continent by the rich and powerful, both states and multinationals. Africa and Africans, inasmuch as they featured at all, featured only as a problem: there is still little scope for Africa to be part of any solution, and the fate of the NAI and its acceptance, operationalising and implementing remains to be seen. But only days after the battles in Genoa, the heads of African states met in Lusaka (and what minimal publicity that meeting received!) to perform the final funeral rites for the OAU. The spiritual, political and economic vision of long-dead leaders was replaced by an ‘African Union’, more pragmatically `21st century', primarily with economic and social goals, but also with broader security and political aims. This new African Union is a new model to serve new times, drawing at least some of its shape and direction from the EU. There have been signs of increasing recognition in Africa that solutions must come from within. The notion of Pan-African spiritual unity has gone, but the idea of the new union is to create strength by reducing barriers, constructing industrial links, encouraging complementary advantage and presenting a more powerful (because united) front to the rest of the world.