Koﬁ Oteng Kufuor has written a clear, factual piece set out in history, religion and political jurisprudence on the challenges, prospects and law towards the formation of a uniﬁed African government. The book’s strength is its careful attention to the relationship between culture, normative behaviour and religion. It is a novel piece of work.
This book offers several micro-histories of attempts at uniﬁcation in the European and African contexts. It posits that the Pan-Africanist view that the European Union’s model is easy to copy and implement is a fallacy. It puts forward several explanations for this – the number of states in Africa involved in the uniﬁcation process may be too high, the African legal systems are diverse, there is an absence of neo federal structures, and international organizations are inefﬁcient – in contrast to a European uniﬁcation shaped by speciﬁc ‘moral and cultural infrastructure’. One of the most useful angles is its focus on the historical and religious underpinnings that have shaped the uniﬁcation (or otherwise) of the two continents. Here, Kufuor carves out the often overlooked perspective of history and religion in propelling the development of law for creating a supranational organization such as the EU. He also notes the central role of non-state actors in fostering Africa’s integration. The book dismisses the notion that political will is sufﬁcient in order to address the question of why uniﬁcation has not happened in Africa – it concludes that copying the European model may not work for Africa but tailoring the process towards integration to its unique formations rather than uniﬁcation might just about do the trick.
The book’s theoretical hypothesis of discontinuous change is ambitious. This hypothesis builds on the theory of path dependence, and postulates that a ‘radical re-alignment of society in terms of seismic shocks allow a window of opportunity for sweeping change’. Kufuor seeks to illuminate the relationship between discontinuous change and the uniﬁcation – or lack of uniﬁcation – of Europe and Africa respectively. He contends that, after the Second World War, Europe was a fertile ground for discontinuous change leading to uniﬁcation, whereas political change after colonial rule was the dominant narrative in Africa, and this was not destructive enough to foster uniﬁcation. He compares the fall of regional economies in post-war Europe leading to uniﬁcation to the rise of the political elites and bourgeois in Africa in the postcolonial era, which has not achieved the same feat. While the uniﬁcation of Europe through discontinuous change is very well conceived, the concept in postcolonial Africa is contentious – I would say woolly at best. But others might argue that the case of the uniﬁcation of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form modern-day Tanzania should give us a sense of what Kufuor seeks to do. He notes that discontinuous change brought about European uniﬁcation; there was an opportunity for instant uniﬁcation during the intense disorder after the war, leading to the fall of the old order.
This book takes readers through the historical perspective of uniﬁcation, laws and norms, and documents European and African attempts at uniﬁcation, setting out clear theoretical frameworks to back up his claims. Despite its short-comings, Kufuor’s book provides a fantastic perspective on African integration and European uniﬁcation embroiled in history through politics, law and religion.
The book extols the model of the EU, but the European experiment has suffered a huge blow –Brexit. How the theoretical hypothesis of this book gives credence to uniﬁcation in Europe in the face of the current happenings in the EU is worth exploring.
The African Union’s Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) was signed by forty-four African nations at an extraordinary summit in Kigali – but ten countries have abstained from the deal so far. Supporters of the CFTA argue that it will create larger, more competitive markets, helping Africa escape the colonial legacy and move towards uniﬁcation. But the African Union’s CFTA, which has been touted as the catalyst for the formation of an African government, seems to be in direct opposition to the central hypothesis Kufuor seeks to explore in this book, since it has not followed a non-incremental, sudden change that would threaten the power structure.
All projects have their limitations, and this book stops short of exploring in any depth the cooperation between private actors in trade through acceptable and efﬁcient norms, or how the trade agenda has taken precedence over the more elusive objective of an inclusive African government or the idea of African uniﬁcation more generally. Nevertheless, the debate between supranationalism and national sovereignty in this book will hold readers spellbound.