Carving up Africa ... 125 years of the Berlin Conference.

Author:Boateng, Osei

2010 is a special year for Africa, not only in terms of the Fifa World Cup finals causing all the excitement in South Africa, but because the year also marks two significant events in the annals of the continent: (1) the 125th anniversary of the Berlin Conference that led to the carving up of Africa into 53 countries; and (2) the 50th independence anniversary celebrations of 17 of those countries! Yes, a whopping 17 African countries will celebrate their Golden Jubilee this year! Accordingly, New African has devoted this month's issue to an in-depth look at the Berlin Conference, whose anniversary falls on 26 February 2010, and its impact on Africa as a continent, and Africans as a people. To start the ball rolling, Osei Boateng reports here on the shape of the Golden Jubilees to come.


First the good news. For the romantics among us, who look at the good old days with rose-tinted glasses, 2010 will provide plenty of pomp, pageantry and nostalgia, especially in August, when nine African countries will celebrate 50 years of independence in a matter of 30 days! In all, a good 17 of Africa's 53 countries will mark their Golden Jubilee this year, all of them having attained political independence at various times in 1960, which is far and away "Africa's independence year"!


For those who want to join in the great celebrations, this is how the itinerary looks: Cameroon, I January 2010 (sorry, it has already passed); Togo, 27 April; Madagascar, 26 June; DR-Congo, 30 June; Somalia, I July. Then the Great August Fest begins with Benin on I August; Niger, 3 August; Burkina Faso, 5 August; Cote d' Ivoire, 7 August; Chad, II August; Central African Republic, 13 August; Congo-Brazzaville, 15 August; Gabon, 17 August; Senegal, 20 August.


And just as we bid farewell to a historic August, Mali takes up the baton on 22 September, followed by Nigeria on I October, and Mauritania on 28 November. A record of 17 Golden Jubilees in one fateful year on one jubilant continent! Sadly, that is where the good news ends.

Now the bad news. Africa's latest great philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese businessman who made his millions from telecommunications and runs an annual prize for good governance in Africa, thinks that some African countries are too small in size or population to survive on their own.


"Some of our countries, and I'm really sorry to say this, are just not viable," he told a conference on good governance in Tanzania on 15 November 2009, coincidentally exactly...

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