Push for United States of Africa goes a notch higher

Category: International
Published on Friday, 06 November 2009 06:42
Written by Casper Waithaka, Daily Nation On The Web
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gadhafi
Col. Moammar Gadhafi is currently the chair of the African Union

Nairobi — After his efforts to unite Africa from the top political leadership seemed to hit a brick wall, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi has changed tactics.

He is now seeking to realise his dream of a United States of Africa from the bottom to top through traditional leaders.

And so last week, a small but significant meeting took place at the offices of the National Heritage ministry headquarters, marking the Kenyan phase of a series of meetings sponsored by Col Gaddafi.

Gathered in the room were councils of elders drawn from various communities, complete with the medallions and their regalia. The leaders were part of a cultural organisation spearheaded by the Libyan leader.

Ambitious idea

The group, Forum for Kings, Sultans, Princes, Sheikhs and Mayors of Africa, has already held extensive meetings and visited different parts of the country in a bid to unite the traditional leaders.

It was in line with the dream by the Libyan president, who has been at the forefront of an ambitious idea to form a United States of Africa during his tenure as the chairman of the African Union.

According to a document on the organisation, the forum's main objective is to make it an instrument of integrated development and promote African culture.

It also seeks to be a tool of social regulation and strengthen the cooperation between African institutions and governments.

The secretary general, Chevy Zeh Jean Gervais, king of Korou in the Ivory Coast, fronted the agenda in the country when he met Nabongo Mumia II of Luhya, Kaya elders of the Giriama in Coast province, Njuri Ncheke of the Ameru, Luo Council of Elders and Kikuyu Council of Elders.

Businessman Kamlesh Pattni convened the meeting in his capacity as a board member of the King Oyo foundation in Tooro Uganda.

Speaking at a meeting at the Laico Regency in Nairobi last week, King Jean Gervais described the organisation as "non-political, which is all around Africa and is an instrument of peace."

He was speaking in English with a heavy French accent. The king added that cultural leaders had been the driving force of peace since time immemorial in Africa, "Before colonisation, Africa was a peaceful continent with the kings and monarchies in control."

The forum was formed in August last year in Bengazi, Libya and among other objectives it seeks to have an African national language.

"Now we are struggling to speak in French and English yet they are all foreign languages. We should have an open language that unites us," King Gervais said.

There has been a lot of effort in the past to form councils of elders of various communities with the recent one being the Kikuyu council of elders.

"With its giant presence in Africa the forum for kings, sultans and princes ensures the solidarity and cooperation among the peoples of the continent for the sake of the rise of the African communities," added the king.

The forum of kings, sultans, princes, sheikhs and mayors of Africa arrived in Kampala, Uganda, on October, 28 from Kenya where the delegates had held a series of meetings.

While in the country, the delegation met with Mr Jacob ole Meron, first secretary of the Ministry of Culture. The meeting, on October 27, was attended by a number of Kenyan kings and sultans who took part in the first conference of the forum.

Recently the Njuri Ncheke elders travelled with Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara to Libya in a similar set-up.

King Jean Gervais, spoke of the participation of the African kings in the work of the coming African summit and the role of the monarchs in achieving the establishment of the United States of Africa.

Remarkable presence

"The United States of Africa is an important thing for the peoples of the continent, and I am not saying that it will be achieved, but it has already been achieved. One cannot hide the sunshine with his own hand. The remarkable presence of all traditional kings in one single place and at one table, is actually a reunification of the United States of Africa," he said in a website.

However, their major challenge has been to meet the presidents who, he says, are on a tight schedule.

They have been to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Africa and Ivory Coast, among other countries.

Mr Phares Rutere, the secretary general of the Njuri Ncheke, welcomed the idea and fully supported it. Nabongo Mumia II, who was the master of ceremonies, hailed the idea saying its time had come.

A Kikuyu elder, Mwangi Thuita voiced his support for Libyan leader and lauded his efforts to unite the African continent.

"I pay tribute to him for his outstanding role and the giant step he made by a reunion the African leaders at one forum," he said.