Fixing the Colonial Heritage. The OAU's Principle of Territorial Integrity
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
5th European Conference on African Studies
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
The African borders represent agreements of European diplomats competing with one another in the Scramble for Africa. When the African colonies became independent time was due to fix the ruthless ignorance of these artificial borderlines. But surprisingly enough this did not happen. The Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka criticised in his recent book the intensity with which the principle of territorial integrity is defended - "[?] even at the expense of development, peace, and humanity" and asked: " Why do those who have gained their self-governance, accept as sacrosanct, what has been bequeathed to them by others who had no interest in Africa?"
In the proposed paper it is argued that a reshaping of the 'inherited' borderlines to correlate with historic, cultural or other means of traditional unities has hardly been addressed by the political elites of the emerging independent African states. The widely accepted argument that the territorial integrity became a fundamental OAU-Principle in 1963 to avoid secessionist wars is misleading. Rather, the adherence to the colonial borders is a result of the debate on African integration. The abolition of all borders and a Union Government as promoted by Kwame Nkrumah were no tempting prospects for the African HoSG. To avoid the surrender of the national sovereignties they argued in favour of territorial integrity.
An apparently paradox answer to Soyinkas question proposes that the debate on Pan-Africanism 50 years ago led to the prolonging of a colonial heritage instead of solving the colonial borders-problem.