AFRICAN UNITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT
by Joseph K. Nyerere
...the requirements of African Unity necessitate the establishment of a new international entity to replace the present small international entities which now exist in our continent. Until we have achieved that we shall not be in a position to utilize the resources of Africa for the people of Africa, and we shall not be free from fear of the rest of the world. A continent-wide state, single and indivisible, must be established, which cannot be broken up again because it is one unit and not a collection of units...
This is simply to say that the new Africa can be a federal state, with the division of powers between the centre and the constituent parts determined according to the wishes of the founders and future generations.
But there are certain things which must be exclusive to the central government. They include Foreign Affairs, Defense, Citizenship, Currency, Customs, Foreign Trade and Mineral Resources, as a minimum. There are certain other things in which the central government must have concurrent and overriding powers in case of conflict, and these include other questions central to economic development as well as police, communication, health, education and so on. The stronger the central government, the greater the potential of Africa; for powers can be devolved in practice as necessary, but there are only with difficulty surrendered by a lesser authority to a greater one. It is also important to realize that, once the decision to unify has been taken, it is the smaller and poorer nation-states which have most reason to support a strong centre; only in such a case is it possible to equalize benefits and burdens over the whole continent. This does not mean that the small states will find it easier to make the decision for unity in the first place. On the contrary, their fear of domination by the stronger and bigger powers may make them more suspicious and more difficult during the negotiations...
The whole argument about whether unity is achieved through a "step by step" process or through political decision is in fact a futile one. Ultimately a political decision is necessary; without it unity cannot be achieved. But it in the meantime, do we merely wait and hope for a miracle, leaving our development and independence for ever in jeopardy, or do we make what progress we can? Surely the answer must be clear; the African states must co-operate, and undertake common activities wherever they can, and for as many practical purposes as possible. Most of all they must each do everything which can be done to safeguard and build up the spirit and emotion of unity.
Because we finish where we started; it is only by agreement that a United Africa can be achieved. The twentieth century is littered with the wrecks of federations which have failed because they were not based on the will of the people involved, or because they were not strong enough to stand against the prevailing winds of international politics and economics.
And it must be quite clear to everyone that the achievement of unity will not itself solve the problems of Africa. It will merely enable them to be solved by Africa. At the beginning, the effectiveness of the All-African government will be limited; it will have more responsibility than power. It will have to inch forward, organizing and arguing every step of the way, and gradually growing in stature -- just as the federal government of the United States is still growing in relation to the states' governments because of the necessities of the people and the world. For the inauguration of the United States of Africa will not usher in the millennium for Africa's people; we shall not on that day become as wealthy and powerful as the United States of America. But we shall be able to begin work, knowing that such a future is possible...
It is essential ... that we in Tanzania, as a society, should recognize the need to take special steps to make our present situation a temporary one, and that we should deliberately fight the intensification of that attitude which would eventually nullify our social need for human dignity and equality. We have to work towards a position where each person realizes that his rights is society -- above the basic needs of every human being -- must come second to the overriding need of human dignity for all; and we have to establish the kind of social organization which reduces personal temptations above that level to a minimum...
The technology of the twentieth century straddles the world and yet we try to operate social relations as if national boundaries created impenetrable barriers between different peoples. It is essential that our concept of society be adapted to the present day; only then will any of our present social groupings really be free to pursue their own policies. Nations are now acting like individuals who have not formed a society; they resist the suggestion because they realize that to form a society means surrendering certain freedoms in order to gain others. Yet year by year the need for an organized society becomes clearer; the question which remains is whether it will be formed before disaster occurs.
At the moment the talk of a "World Government" -- which is what a world society implies -- is day-dreaming. It is very logical dreaming and very necessary. But it is not likely to become a reality soon. Throughout the world nation-states have been so successful in creating concepts of an exclusive internal unity that almost all peoples are now terrified by the thought that someone from "outside" will have power over them; they do not seem able to realize that they will also have power over others. This means that, necessary as it is, we are just not going to crate a world government in this century -- unless, of course, some unforeseeable event transforms present-day human activities.
We have therefore in this respect, as in others, to work up to the goal, starting from the present position. We have to rejoice in the very imperfect United Nations and have to work to strengthen it. At present it is faltering because of the inequalities between it members and because there has been no agreement by the members to give it independent strength. Yet it is an institution which can even now be built up, and just as it is the weaker men who in the short run gain most from the organization of human society, so too, in the short run, it is the small and weak nations who most urgently need the organization of a world society. It is therefore countries like Tanzania which must put in the extra effort which is necessary to make the United Nations succeed in its present endeavours, so that it can grow or be replaced later by a stronger body, as the circumstances demand.
Yet there is more than one way in which the present-day African societies can reduce the dangers to themselves which come from the proliferation of nation-states. While we work towards world unity, we can create unity in our continent. Or, if African unity is still too big a step to take at once, then we can create greater African unity by unions, federations or mergers of the present nation-states, so that the number of sovereign societies in Africa is reduced.
These preliminary steps need not be day-dreaming. If we have courage and intelligence they can become reality in the immediate future. And certainly they are essential if the ordinary African citizen is ever really to overcome the poverty which at present grips him and if he is to increase his degree of personal safety. For this is, and must be, the purpose of greater unity in Africa and elsewhere. Not size for its own sake, but strength and power used to defend the real freedoms of the ordinary man and to help him progress in his freedom.
Nyerere led the movement for an independent Tanganyika. He was also instrumental in achieving the United Republic of Tanzania, a federation of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, and served as its president. The above are excerpts are from Freedom and Unity, 1967.
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