Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Africa Unity Day and the Decline of Pan-Africanism

Tomorrow is Africa Unity Day. But, the university has scheduled my exam on that morning. I know that the university would not schedule an exam on certain other holidays such as Christmas. Indeed my lecture on Good Friday was cancelled due to the holiday. So I am wondering if the fact that my exam is on Africa Unity Day is indicative of the general decline in recent decades of Pan-Africanism as an ideology with an actual goal rather than just something people give lip service to?

Given the success of the European Union, a lot of aspects of Pan-Africanism would appear to be quite beneficial not only to Africans, but other people as well. An African version of a Schengen visa for instance would make travel easier for people from outside Africa as well as increasing tourist revenue for African countries. The costs of goods would also decrease within Africa as it became cheaper to move them within Africa due to the elimination of trade barriers. Yet, despite the benefits of greater economic cooperation, the ideology of Pan-Africanism seems to have declined in direct proportion to the rise of Pan-Europeanism in the form of the EU during the last fifty years.

I do not think political unification of Africa was ever a realistic goal. The continent is too large and diverse. But, there certainly could be a lot more unity than there is currently. A lot of artificial barriers to the movement of people and goods still exist in Africa. A greater commitment to actually realizing Pan-African goals could substantially reduce these barriers.

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