Like many other continents, Africa has its own experience of being under colonial rule. These colonial borders have significantly impacted Africa’s political, social, and economic landscape.
As the world moves forward, growing discussion regarding dissolving African colonial borders arises. This is rooted in the desire for a unified and harmonious Africa.
However, this is not without its challenges, as this idea raises questions regarding the practicality of its execution and impact on various cultures and identities within the continent.
Colonial history of Africa
Africa’s colonial history was mired with conflict when European nations came to seize parts of the continent around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Berlin Conference between 1884 and 1885 marked a crucial meeting point for European powers. During this period, various European nations set rules for dividing Africa.
These European powers established the African borders without regard for existing ethnic and cultural boundaries. Europe’s thirst for resources primarily drove this act of partitioning. This continued act of colonialism led to the further exploitation of Africa’s people and resources.
The legacy of colonial borders
Many human rights advocates and historians commonly agree that Africa and its cultural heritage experienced a great impact from the effects of colonial rule. Traditional systems were torn down in place of colonial structures. European customs were introduced and integrated into the continent. Infrastructure to transport African resources was built at the cost of losing its sense of autonomy.
In the modern day, displays of racial discrimination against Africans and people with African heritage can sometimes still be observed. This leads back to how African people were put into labor under harsh conditions during the colonial period.
The birth of the African Union
In May 1963, The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was signed as Africa’s first post-independence continental institution. The OAU envisions a free and united Africa, recognizing freedom, equality, justice, and dignity as its essential objectives to achieve the aspirations of African people.
However, the Organisation of African Unity lasted from 1963 to 1999. By 2002, the African Union (AU) was officially launched. The African Union was set to be the successor to the Organisation of African Unity.
At its core, the organization was driven by Pan-Africanism. Its guiding philosophy emphasizes unity, African socialism, communal values, and celebrating Africa’s culture and heritage, fostering a shared sense of purpose and identity among its members.
The African Union’s vision is future-driven. They envision an integrated Africa rich in prosperity and peace. They are driven and represented by its people on the global stage.
The structure of the African Union
The African Union has a well-defined structure. The actions of the African Union are implemented through several principal decision-making entities, including:
- Assembly of Heads of State and Government
- Executive Council
- Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC)
- Specialized Technical Committees (STCs)
- Peace and Security Council
- African Union Commission
- Pan-African Parliament
- Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)
Additionally, other key bodies in the organization handle various other matters. These include judicial, legal, human rights, and financial:
- African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
- African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR)
- AU Commission on International Law (AUCIL)
- AU Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC)
- The Regional Economic communities (RECs)
- African Peer Review Mechanism
The initiatives to dissolve colonial borders
In recent years, initiatives have been undertaken that have helped address the lasting impacts of colonial borders. These initiatives include diplomatic negotiations against territorial disputes, promoting regional integration through economic partnerships, and productive cultural exchanges.
A few notable initiatives contributed to the dissolution of African colonial borders that are worth mentioning.
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
The AfCFTA initiative is included in the African Union’s “African Solutions to African Problems” agenda. This initiative aims to dissolve the colonial border by shattering the economic barriers imposed. AfCFTA promotes intra-African trade and building economic integration.
Pan-African festivals, on the other hand, serve a dual purpose. They educate about and showcase the continent’s shared culture, fostering a sense of unity. These initiatives are crucial in reshaping relationships and identities influenced by colonial borders.
The potential benefits of dissolving colonial borders
According to leading experts on the matter and its advocates, dissolving colonial borders in Africa may bring great positive changes for the people and the regions impacted by their legacy. The process holds great potential to reshape Africa’s socio-political landscape in several ways:
- Enhanced unity and cooperation
- Economic growth
- Cultural preservation
- Conflict reduction
- Environmental management
- Improved infrastructure development
The challenges of a united Africa
As promising as it may be, achieving such an endeavor doesn’t come easy. Several potential challenges may come in the way that need to be overcome. Here are some examples:
- Political resistance
- Ethnic and cultural tensions
- Economic implications
- Legal and administrative hurdles
- International relations
- Displacement and social impact
- Historical and cultural considerations
Dissolving the colonial borders and getting rid of their legacy is an arduous act. This pursuit holds promising benefits and equally formidable challenges. Cooperation between Africa and its people is needed to overcome these challenges. By working together, Africa may break the borders and legacies of colonialism and lead its people to a unified future.