YESTERDAY was African Union Day, set aside to commemorate the establishment of the African Union.
Formerly known as the Organisation of African Unity, the now christened African Union was established by the leaders of the continent to forge unity among the various people, and to work towards the attainment of their collective aspirations.
When Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah led the people of Ghana to attain independence, he was convinced that the newly-independent state’s future was hinged on the collective development of the entire continent.
Thus, he and the similarly visionary leaders of the other states, including Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Anwar Sadat of Egypt and William Tubman of Liberia, joined forces to bring the dream of the continental unity to fruition.
The group of pioneers came up with very lofty ideas and policies that aimed at ensuring the integration of their people and enhance their economic development.
It is, however, disheartening that as at today, Africa is yet to realise any true integration.
The people of the continent are made to observe a day which, seemingly, has no relevance at all, as the AU has failed to achieve any of its goals.
The Africa Union has been reduced to a body which holds occasional summits for the leaders to display their oratory, and take decisions which either have no substance, or proved unachievable.
The continent remains undeveloped, despite it being endowed with rich natural resources, and the leaders keep going cup-in-hand to beg for loans and grants from relatively less-endowed nations.
The countries are still divided by artificial boundaries created by the former colonial masters, despite the talks of integration.
The vision of a common sub-regional currency has also remained a mirage.
That is why the Times appreciates the advice given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms. Hanna Tetteh, to the countries to move their diplomatic relations beyond governments, and create the enabling environment for their peoples to participate in the continent’s development.
The Times believes it is time the continent’s leaders moved from giving lip-service to the concept of unity, and, instead, began taking pragmatic steps to advance the cause.