A borderless Africa is an outdated and dangerous notion

Sunday December 15 2019


By Philip Matogo

Coming together is something Africans need to do not because they must need each other, but because they happen to need one another. This was the crux of the message from a discussion themed: “Borderless Africa and why it is a winner,” which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, last week.
“There is no reason to fear opening our borders,” one speaker declared with a straight face.

Yet with the current state of Africa’s body politic, opening borders is akin to pushing a door marked ‘pull.’ This is because the biggest obstacle to African unity is, well, African unity. To be specific, African unity as conceived by our current African leaders, many of whom are inhabited by a Goliath of egoism that ensures they are lionized in their own countries while their institutions are dwarfed to a purring insignificance.
As a consequence, African countries have become Lilliputian expressions of oppression, nepotism, corruption and conflict.

So an opening of boundaries would lead to an African backwardness unconfined. And, within the blink of an eye, what ails Africa would go from national malaise to continental affliction. Oppression would have no borders as African bully pulpits are swung from Cape to Cairo by African presidents who insist on riding roughshod over their citizens’ rights.

Additionally, defence budgets would skyrocket as gun-toting security personnel hold guns to the head of every African who even thinks of democracy. We would then be reminded of the need for unity at the cost of freedom. And preventative detention acts similar to the one in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana would find their way into the statute books as obedience to flag and country, regardless of what the two represent, would become a secular religion.

Again, nepotism would be free of borders as an African Unity Government operates like a mafia commission. To those who are not aware, “The Mafia Commission” was the governing body of the American Mafia and came into being in 1931 when honour among thieves went from being a saying to a means of preserving their loot. The Commission replaced the “capo di tutti capi” or “Boss of all Bosses” title that is informally prevalent in African systems of rule.

Thereupon, The Commission consisted of the New York Five Families’ bosses and the bosses of the Chicago Outfit and the Buffalo crime family. Of course, in Africa, the families would be different, even as freedom of association and speech would be buffaloed. Corruption would also be unrestricted by a borderless Africa. Today, we have petty larceny across African governments.


A united Africa would ensure a grand larceny on the scale of trillions of monies failing to be freed from the sticky fingers belonging to African autocrats with telephone digit bank account balances. For the more citizens available to be governed would verily translate into more suckers available to be robbed from head to jiggered toes.

In the midst of this mess, ethnic conflicts would heighten as Africans squabble over who should get the bigger slice of the pie ordinarily known as government.
And this would play out like a scene from America’s ‘Old West’ or ‘Wild West’ whence anarchy and violence would turn Africa into a present-day eastern Democratic Republic of Congo writ large.

Of course, as upshot of all this, Africa would also be a “a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that give birth and continuing life to the continent.”
But this is would be wholly accidental in light of how African leaders seem to politically immature with age.

Since we all know how a younger President Museveni seemed to be far more astute than the old man in State House today. And this includes his barter trade phase as well.
All told, pan-Africanism is an outdated notion in this digital era where people are together by accident instead of design.

So a humanist instead of Africanist ethos at the core of our digital interactions would better tap into the interiority of our humanity (instead of Africanity) to release a self-assured African who is first a human and second, essentially no longer captive to a colonial legacy.

Indeed, before we can even think of a borderless Africa, we must start at a national level with the right-size government by reducing the scale of parliament, the number of districts and agencies which duplicate services in order to buttress a neo-patrimonial system of rule coming apart at the seams. This, in a manner of speaking, would bolster a testicular fortitude to do what is right in order to shrink the scrotum of self-entitlement and thereby grow a more nurturing political culture.

Which would mean increasing the pay and perks of the teachers, police, army and doctors in order to raise a patriotic class of civil servants who keep their hands on their hearts as our national flag flaps in the winds of change.

Mr Matogo is content editor and writer with KQ Hub Africa