Print pagePDF page

Thomas Kwasi Tieku
Lead researcher at the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s (CIGI) Africa Initiative program and Director of African Studies at the University of Toronto

Play

Summary

Thomas Tieku of the University of Toronto explores the feasibility of a so-called ‘United States of Africa’ – a continental union of states characterized by a centralized structure of governance. Unpacking the positions of various academic, civil society, and political actors, Tieku outlines the core lines of demarcation that shape the historical dialogue between those for and against the prospect of union. For Tieku, the possibility of support stems from entrenched constitutional obligations, elite consensus, and individual leader preferences, while the hesitation of reservation stems from regional power structures, perceived local identities, and the nexus between leadership and sovereignty within smaller, less powerful states. Drawing upon situational considerations in the immediate post-colonial period, Tieku suggests that the feasibility of union is quite limited, at least for the time being. Trends in regional political climates, relevant external trials and errors, and individual decision-making structures appear to be some of the primary obstacles. However, for Tieku, upcoming generations of Africans may offer new ideas.

Additional Resources

  • Nkrumah, Kwame. 1963. African Must Unite. London: Heinemann.
  • Mazrui, Ali. 1963. On the Concept of ?We Are All Africans?. The American Political Science Review LVII: 1, pp. 88-97.
  • Maloka, Eddy, ed. 2001. A United States of Africa. Pretoria: African Institute of South Africa.
  • Timothy Murithi, ed. 2008.  Towards a union government for Africa: challenges and opportunities, Institute for Security Studies
  • Wafula Okumu, 2009. The African Union: pitfalls and prospects for  uniting Africa. Journal of International Affairs, 62:2.
  • Waberi, Abdourahman, 2009. In the United States of Africa, Translated  by David and Nicole Ball. University of Nebraska Press.
  • For synthesis of civil society consultation prior to the grand debate  on the question of union government for Africa held in Accra in 2007,  visit http://www.africa-union.org/augovernment.htm 

Thomas Kwasi Tieku, Background
Lead researcher at the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s (CIGI) Africa Initiative program and Director of African Studies at the University of Toronto

Recorded on February 2011