The end of the affair? What does the defeat of Muammar AlGathafi (pictured below) mean to Africa? A lot, including the disunity of the African Union itself.

Author:Wambu, Onyekachi
Position:Back to the Future - Column

The defeat of Muammar Al Gathafi's army in Libya is the ending of several important ideas and alliances that have shaped the African geostrategic architecture in the post independence period. The first is the seeming collapse in credibility and, maybe in the long run if we are not careful, even the legitimacy of many of the anti-colonial and nationalist actors who brought independence.



Beginning with Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt in July 1952, Africans led by some incredible men, north and south of the Sahara, began winning the long fight which had been gathering speed for at least half a century against the European colonial powers to return political freedoms, land, African dignity and independence.

Lest we forget, some of these campaigns involved murderous responses from the departing colonialists. In Libya, for instance, between 1922-28, the Italians are said by Arab historians to have been responsible for the death of over 80,000 Libyans in Cyrenaica, a third of the population, following an uprising against them.

The nationalists not only secured independence, but had in many cases, like Muammar Al Gathafi, supported other continental liberation struggles, expelled foreign bases and nationalised important assets such as oil.

The second important idea that seems to be disappearing in the debris of Libya is the Afro-Arab alliance. After his 1952 revolution, Nasser, the major North African figure, in The Philosophy of the Revolution, theorised the alliance, locating Egypt within three circles - Arab, Islamic and African - but also acted on this understanding.

Egypt, alongside 12 Asian countries, helped sponsor the first UN resolution in September 1952 against apartheid. Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and others, then deepened the alliance, consolidating in the Organisation of African Unity. Al Gathafi, who imagined himself as Nasser's heir, has in his own way and for his own ambitions, been the most vocal supporter in the North, of that unity and the Afro-Arab alliance.

The alliance has been under strain for a while - particularly in the Afro-Arab Sahelian borderlands. South Sudan and Darfur put the alliance under immense pressure. The sidelining of the AU on...

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