Back in the days of the 3 Ms: M1 (Moi), M7 (Museveni) and MK(Mkapa), they almost had me believing that the EAC was just the beginning and that soon we would have one united East African Nation. I guess I thought we would all end up trading in our dull dark blue passports for shiny new light blue “EA” ones.
More and more it seems that those passports and the rest of my other dreams of things like one president, a single currency, open borders and so forth might be more of a reality for my children’s children or their children’s children.
Right now on paper, we have this. But for as long as I can remember it’s always Kenya v. Uganda v. Tanzania contest on some issue or other, most of these issues are based on well known stereotypes: how corrupt, greedy, and aggressive Kenya is, how Uganda lusts for land, or how all Tanzanians are ‘placid’.
In the wake of the recent squabble between Kenya and Uganda over a rock known as Migingo Island, I would hope that each East African country would realise that in these tough economic times, unity and collective strength as a region is the only way to have any chance of survival in the international system. Each country has something it can learn from each other on the way to forging such unity.
For instance, Tanzania has great lessons on national cohesion, unity of purpose and an egalitarian touch (stemming from Nyererism); while Rwanda can offer us all lessons on the importance of strong and focused leadership, as well as results-oriented ambitious programming on IT and education.
Uganda can teach us all on how not to have life-term presidents consumed with petty land lust, while Burundi has lessons on silly it is to invest a poor country’s resources in sham and meaningless wars.
And finally, Kenya, as the region’s biggest and most dynamic economy, has important lessons on how to develop economically, but also important political lessons on how not to careen into mayhem and collapse.
No country is an island and no island is worth fighting for at the expense of much needed solidarity and collective purpose. Insularity and parochialism have no place in today’s globalized world.
Now Listening to: X Plastaz – Nini Dhambi Kwa Mwenye Dhiki