All eyes have been on Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi during his first official visit to Libya's former colonial master, Italy. Per his usual eccentric style, there has been no shortage of controversy during his trip. Al-Gaddafi blasted the U.S. for hypocrisy in its war against terrorism, gave a well received speech to hundreds of well-clad Italian women, and suggested that Europe substitute representative democracy for a more direct democratic system along the lines of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
When Gaddafi was elected in February as leader of the African Union, the drums began beating again for a United States of Africa. While discussion of such a Pan-African dream has taken place for decades, no concrete steps have been taken to make it reality.
Today, Africa yet remains fragmented into both large and small countries carved by former colonial powers. The artificial divisions have lead to an untold number of ethnic conflicts, resource wars and an inability for many small countries to compete in the global economy. My hope is that a United States of Africa like the ideal being pushed by Al- Gaddafi, can finally bring an era of peace and development to a continent that has been riddled with internal divisions and extreme poverty.
Of course, there are many skeptics who doubt the feasability of continental unity in our lifetimes. They say a slower unification plan is more likely. The first leader of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, is perhaps the most remembered for his unrivaled advocacy for a politically unified continent. His warning that a gradualist, regional approach to continental unification was impossible, has been adopted by Colonel Gadaffi as he makes his case before the African Union.
Kwame Nkrumah's vision was ahead of its time, but how far? Is the U.S.A. possible in my life time? For now, it remains a dream.