EAC Disputes: Lessons From Nkrumah’s Experience

cialis 40mg geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Nkrumah was able to convince Sékou Touré into the federation talks by offering him a loan of 10 million pounds to construct the Volta Dam at Akasombo. After Mali also joined the union it was rewarded with a loan of about £5m by Ghana.

So, the first ever attempt at political union in Africa was actually based on bribery. And it is no surprise that it collapsed as fast as it started.

Dr Nkurumah’s intention of building Africa into one political bloc was mainly for protection against foreign invasion—neo-imperialism.

Two issues made it very difficult for Nkrumah’s project to succeed; the urgency of federation which made it look very unrealistic and failure to appreciate the various ideologies of different African states.

The other reason, which should also be taken very seriously since it has also driven a dagger through the East African Community, is that Nkrumah underestimated the degree of suspicion and animosity which his crusading passion had created among a substantial number of his fellow heads of state.


When former President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, radical as Nkrumah, also advocated for political union for East Africa he suffered a similar fate.

So what do we borrow from Nkrumah’s experience? EAC is currently torn between those that want an immediate political union, whom we can call the progressives, and those that want us to move step by step—whom we can refer to as conservatives.

The progressives are pursuing a top-bottom approach and the conservatives want a bottom-top approach.

Whereas President Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania) wants a federation built on a firm foundation which is well-planned his colleagues Museveni, Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) are in pursuit of a top-bottom model.

But why would Kikwete and most Tanzanians disappoint their great grandfather, Nyerere? Some sources have intimated to me that integration was moving very well until Museveni mooted the idea of having Rwanda and Burundi part of the family.

It is believed that Museveni’s focus on having Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and probably in future; Somalia and Ethiopia was to diffuse conflicts in the region to pave way for economic prosperity.


For instance, Museveni has always argued that Genocide would never have occurred in Rwanda and Darfur under a regional government.

However, the conservatives like Kikwete believe that a strong Community would be one where member states have common geography. In fact Museveni’s approach to integration has been quietly challenged by his own officials.

A friend of mine who has participated in negotiations to admit Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan tells me that EAC risks being like Comesa, which is everywhere and nowhere because whoever wishes to join is admitted.

So, is Museveni misleading East Africans in the integration process as Kikwete would like to point out? Yes, because we are talking about everything and nothing in particular and Museveni’s school of thought has never been tested. We are pursuing an expansionist policy yet we barely assess the condition of the new members to determine their credibility and how sick they are.

Secondly, integration is leaders-driven not people-driven, which is why Nkrumah, Gaddafi and Nyerere failed.

I also argue that after all Museveni may be the wrong person to push for political federation of East Africa. He is seen to be over ambitious just like Nkrumah, Gaddafi and Nyerere. There is growing unease in Africa that Museveni is positioning himself as the continent’s top dog.

The old joke that the EAC will succeed only when Tanzanians learn English, Ugandans learn Swahili, and Kenyans learn manners tells it all.

The writer is CEO-Press4EAC

Back to top button
Translate »

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker