by Cynthia Nakanjako, 19th March 2019
Nationalism, globalisation and Pan-Africanism are leading IR (International Relations) concepts that have a particular relevance for Africa as an emerging economic power.
Dr Michael Amoah is an IR scholar, specialising in African Politics, International Politics of Africa, Foreign Policy, Conflict and Security. He recently launched his new book entitled ‘The New Pan-Africanism: Globalism and the Nation State in Africa’ at the London school of Economics. Chaired by Professor E.A. Brett, the event was a resounding success, with guests ranging from academics, researchers and students.
The book examines the concept of nationalism, the nationalist mind-set or ‘psychology of nationalism’ and the role of the nation state in an era of globalism and globalisation. Through in-depth case studies of eight countries (i.e. DRC, South Sudan, Burundi, Libya, Mali, Rwanda, Central African Republic and Burkina Faso) which Michael describes as “in trouble” due to conflict, he touches on the role of global governance institutions like the UN council but more significantly, he discusses the impact of globalism in African states where Pan-Africanism is an increasingly significant factor in both domestic politics and international relations.
He observes that one key trend in all eight countries is that conflict arose due to heads of state overstaying in power causing resentment amongst the people.
However, he acknowledges that the case of Libya is somewhat different in a sense that yes Gaddafi had been in power for quite some time, but conflict was a result of interference from external Western powers.
The book launch also included a Q&A session and the most asked question of the night was;
“How do we combat the problem of heads of states overstaying in power in Africa?”
Dr. Michael: Currently, the African Union (AU) is the “Presidents’ club” in a sense that at the top we have the Assembly of Heads of State and Government; and underneath that you have the Executive Council (comprising of Foreign Ministers). With this structure, it is very difficult for the AU Commission (aka Secretariat) to rise above the decisions or directions of the Assembly. Essentially the Commission is the secretary and the Assembly the boss – so, secretary must do as the boss says. Africa as a whole needs to have a conversation regarding a structure that tackles issues from the top. For change to take place, Heads of State have to stop thinking as nationalists and start thinking as continentalists. AU should be telling Museveni that you shouldn’t be running for presidency in 2021. We need to establish a super structured body that has power over the Heads of State. This will help towards achieving a United Africa.
Prof. Brett: We need a technocratic system that is independent of AU that overlooks Heads of State because if the AU is led/directed by Heads of state, who guards the guardians?
“What is the significance of Reforms proposed by President Kagame at the recent AU summit?”
Dr. Michael: These are very essential for African Union’s to achieve its long-term objectives. For example, there’s so much conflict across the continent that institutions of global governance are spending so much money just to address peace keeping issues. Moving forward, it’s important for AU to be able to resolve its own problems using its own resources. To achieve this, the Kagame reforms call for the implementation of a 0.2% levy on eligible imports to enable the African Union to finance itself in the long term.
“What is the role of regional bodies in achieving positive change?”
Dr Michael cited the significant role ECOWAS played during Gambia elections and more recently SADC during Democratic Republic of Congo presidential elections in restoring democracy.
“What is the role of external Western influence?”
Dr Michael: In the case of DRC, everyone is protecting their interests. You have Western influences in the background doing everything in their power to make sure they continue extracting their gold and coltan which has fuelled conflict in DRC. In relation to Libya; Nigeria, Gabon and South Africa each voted for NATO’s no-fly zone which basically authorised Western countries to invade Libya resulting in the killing of Libyan’s long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, thus betraying the continent, because they were bought.
All in all, the talk was highly insightful and for someone who spoke with such in-depth knowledge and understanding, I expect nothing less of his book. For any academics researching into the topic of Pan-Africanism or those of you with a genuine interest in the topic, I’d highly recommend this book.
I think it’s important for people both in Africa and the Diaspora, to understand the dynamics of Pan-Africanism and utilise it in the plight towards sustainable development and real independence post-colonialism. Empowerment is not just about physicality – it begins with your mindset. Get your copy today!