"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


king of all of the world

Back in the dark ages when I started graduate school, I was fascinated by what we used to call the Organization of African Unity and its transformation into the African Union. I wrote several papers questioning whether the African Union would become the fulfillment of the Pan-Africanist dream, or if it was just a front for Muammar el-Qaddafi's insidious plot to establish the Great Arab Jamahiriya. These papers usually ended with an ominous, non-specific conclusion along the lines of, "Whether the African Union will fulfill the promises of African unity remains to be seen." (Since most of my professors were either too close to retirement to care or believed that admission to the Yale Graduate School meant you'd already earned Honors (Oh, there aren't normal grades at a place like Yale.), all the non-commital speculation didn't do a thing to hurt my transcript.)

Apparently, it was the latter. Qaddafi, you see, has moved on from child's play like blowing up planes over Scotland. This weekend, he made major progress towards his long time dream of being King of Africa. Seems his extensive use of oil money-patronage and parachuting troops in to defend presidential palaces in central African backwaters / invading neighbors to uphold corrupt regimes finally paid off: Qadaffi has been elected president of the African Union.

Now, normally, the presidencey of the African Union isn't that big of a deal. Sure, there's pomp and circumstance and a nice suite at the Addis Sheraton (Hilton if you're lucky!), but you really don't do that much during your, um, one year tenure.

Qaddafi, though, has bigger plans. He's going to unite them all. Into the United States of Africa. Presumably with him as king.

Luckily, there are enough egos in Africa that he won't be able to get away with it. The South Africans have already organized a group to oppose Qaddafi, who would like to do away with the longstanding tradition of decision-making by consensus. Consensus is one of the pillars of the AU, and those African leaders who haven't been bought off by Qaddafi will be reluctant to give up that standard. Or maybe Qaddafi will airlift Mercedes for every government minister into Pretoria. Stranger things have happened.


Blogger euphrony said...

My dad was in Ghana a few years ago when Qaddafi came through town on one of his African unity tours. It was a driving tour, because Qaddafi was afraid to fly at the time (American missiles had a nasty tenancy to fly in his general direction). My dad's hosts kept him out of sight until Qaddafi had passed, just to be safe.

Yeah, Qaddafi's come a long ways since the 1980's.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 8:07:00 AM


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