U.S.-AFRICA SUMMIT: United Africa? Not Yet

From Marcus Garvey to Bob Marley, see leading figures who championed a United States of Africa. (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal

By PETER WONACOTT CONNECT

The journalist and black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey wrote a poem about it. The reggae great Bob Marley sang about it. And the Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi poured his oil wealth into it. But none lived to see a United States of Africa.

This history of disappointed hopes will provide the backdrop in early August when President Barack Obama hosts the inaugural U.S.-Africa summit in Washington. Only a few of Africa’s 54 leaders—including Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who is still the target of U.S. sanctions—haven’t been invited.

The U.S. wants to discuss continent-wide issues, such as security and terrorism, and to promote regional initiatives, such as shared electricity. To stress the breadth of the meeting’s aims, Mr. Obama plans to meet with the African heads of state as a group, not individually—a move that has ruffled some diplomatic feathers.

The vision of an impoverished continent of countries coming together as one, flexing its muscle in geopolitics and the global economy, has long enticed activists, poets and politicians. But today’s Africa remains divided, largely along hastily drawn colonial-era borders. The question now is whether the still-remote idea of political unity can find new life in the more modest goal of an integrated economic community. The obstacles are formidable.

Read more at WSJ.com »

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Ambassador David Shinn on the 2014 Africa Summit in DC (TADIAS)

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