The Horn Of Africa States: Unfreezing The Frozen Region – OpEd

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Before a century and some years ago, the Horn of Africa States was a thriving region, providing food and other necessities to itself, West Asia and Egypt and other countries.

It was, indeed, a center of education and learning sending its own learned men to Cairo and Damascus and Jerusalem and other centers of learning. Its ambassadors were in the Mediterranean Europe and other Africa regions and, of course, Persia and the Arabian Peninsula. Richard Burton was even surprised when he was asked about the Crimea War, when he arrived in Zeila in the eighteen fifties.

What has happened to the region since those good days is clear and need not be repeated here. But one must, however, note that the current situation of the region is not tenable. Relentless conflicts, underdevelopment, climate pressures and other development challenges, seem to be tethering the region and it needs to address them. Single states cannot survive in the world of today. Note there are the Europeans who created their own European Union and there is West Africa which has created its own ECOWAS and there is the Southern Africa States who have created their own SADC and the Central Africans who have created the East Africa Community from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Where does the Horn of Africa States stand, in this age of regionalism and unions.

Even other groupings are now at play. We have the G20 or the G7 countries and we have the USMC organization, and all are aimed at supporting each other in the face of natural world competition in terms of development, business and commerce and even in science and other social developments. We hear of “our values and our freedoms” and other callings by other groupings. Where does the Horn of Africa States stand in this age of collectivization?

We know the region instead of coming together is even trying to break itself into smaller parts. The region must be in another planet and not in this earth. It is working opposite to the norms of normal nations, and it is difficult to describe it. No wonder the region the Horn of Africa States is known to be a region of despair, disunity, and conflicts and resulting hunger and starvation. Some parts exclusively focus on their tribal wellbeing as opposed to the regional or even national wellbeing. They think of the advantages they could draw from being singular and alone without even knowing how this would be possible when bigger sharks and wolves are around sniffing.

It is perhaps time, the region’s leaders both the ruling groups and in the opposition realized that they could do better for their constituencies by bringing together the region towards a developmental path and away from internal regional and tribal strives that lead no one to nowhere. It is perhaps time the region shared resources in this digital age and worked together for the development of the region. By working together costs could be shared and hence benefits could be better for each. The unitary state is no longer a workable proposition in this age of groupings where countries gang together against others. Look at the UK which regrets it ever chose to walk away from its European sister countries!

The region must learn that the imperative “Me, Me, Me……” is not a workable mindset and this appears to have been the main force driving all the wrong actions, politicians have taken in the region during the past forty odd years. The single state solution let alone the small clan/tribe is not workable and it is a wonder what is in the minds of those leaders who think in those obsolete mindsets that would not add to the development of the small tribe or clan they appear to be favoring as opposed to the whole.

We, therefore, urge, the leaders of the region to choose peace, co-operation and collective management of the region as opposed to the singular state craft, which seems to have been abandoned in the world lately. The region faces many challenges including but not limited to underdevelopment, trade barriers, unreliable supply chains, and pressures from other regions, and must, therefore, move forward together. The region needs to unfreeze the potential of the region frozen a century and some years ago by the powers of those days, which has kept the Horn of Africa States as divided as it is, or even striving to divide itself further into smaller parts. It is perhaps time that the mindset breeding the smaller units was stumped out and a mindset feeding and flourishing a regional setting was put in place.

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected]

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