When the US President stood to address the men and women of both members of the house of Parliament at Westminster hall,he laughed at the high bar he claimed had been set by the three predecessors who had the honor of addressing the same gathering before him in the past.Only the Pope,Her Majesty the Queen and Nelson Mandela had been so honored by addressing both houses in the past.The full transcript of the speech can be read here
There were some key note points i picked from his speech and i am going to point them out here.He started of by reminding the gathered members of the long relationship the US and UK have in their shared histories and the value they place on the rights of individuals and the rule of law and not on ethnicity or color.He also emphasised that the prosperity of nations was intertwined,countries could no longer exist in isolation.He defined the US and the UK as being countries that were defined by ideals and one of the most important questions he posed to the audience was,what future are we passing on to our children?
Listening to him was enthralling because President Obama plays and uses words much in the same way Mozart used musical notes to create pieces that resonate 250 years later with audiences the world over.Obama’s greatest gift to audiences who listen to him is that he is able to paint pictures with words,and it is a joy listening to the way he puts his thoughts together in words.
But this post here is not meant to extol the oratory skills of the 44th President of the United States of America,it is out to show the need for African countries to work together if they are to shed off the tag of the dark continent.Too many times the world has been treated to the spectacle of hungry and malnourished children standing at deaths door,or to the bloody and mutilated bodies of the victims of tribal violence on the continent.It is time we stopped being the recipients of all forms of aid from food to military to educational aid.
At the moment there is a huge crisis in eastern Africa especially among the countries that make up part of the horn of Africa.This is as a result of the drought and famine that has ravaged the people in these region and left them high and dry begging for food yet again.The area right now has seen an influx of international aid workers as well as the accompanying spectacle of international TV crews.All the food that is going to be donated to manage this crisis will come form the west,it is very rare for African countries to sort out one of their own.Why cant we have maize from Malawi and wheat from South Africa to assuage the pangs of hunger our brothers and sisters in Daadab are feeling?
Why is it countries in Africa apart from the peace keeping forces they so faithfully send out at times of crisis and the support they give whenever one of their own is being hounded by the “west” be extended to helping each other in times of crisis such as this?
The US and much of the countries in Europe operate under various alliances and have perfected the art of bailing each other out to a t”.Why cant the same be replicated in Africa?Are we so busy seeking to outshine each other and compete for the never ending aid that we fail to notice that working together would be mutually beneficial to the citizens of these continent?
The re branded African Union needs to stop being a body that does less talking and more action ,it needs to have some more relevance in a world that has changed drastically since it was formed.It needs to answer to Africa’s needs today and create a future for the children of these great continent.Too much time is spent discussing conflicts,resolving conflicts and not much time is spent on real workable solutions that cause the conflicts in the first place.
Regionally we have already seen the reluctance that has met the launch of the East African Common Market with some country’s like Tanzania being wary of their neighbour Kenya.We will not see any progress on the continent if we are suspicious of each other.We cannot also be fighting over territory like the Migingo and Ugingo islands in Lake Victoria which you can read about here and expect to go on with business as usual.
We need to recognize that we need to work together or we “die”.Our countries need each other to survive economically and with the newest kid on the block South Sudan is looking up towards the countries that have been independent for much longer .Countries need to stop living in isolation,there is an African proverb that says .Two trees planted together cannot avoid brushing against each other ” and countries have begun to realize that we do not need the west to market what we produce locally .Our biggest and best clients are right here right across the border .We are now doing more business with our neighbours than we did in the last 5 years,it is time we went beyond being markets for each others goods and became allies and friends,neighbours who can help each other out in times of difficulty because as they say” it is a fool who rejoices when his neighbour is in trouble.”
Africa is where the rest of the world is looking towards for ideas,resources,market and expansion yet our eyes are so focused on the countires across the oceans we have failed to see the need in our own backyards.