New Internationalist

Pipedreams And Prophesies

Issue 326

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Pipedreams
and prophecies

I have no taste for make-believe,
For the hopes and illusions
Of the supra-national school.
The union of a continent –
Blessed or cursed with many tongues,
Such rich and diverse cultures,
Such geographic breadth –
Is a pipedream.
A single common currency?
A parliament in common?
One court of human rights?
Let us live in the real world.
This is a continent of conflict,
Replete with tribal longings
And memories of war.
Nations cannot be suicidal:
The Union is foredoomed.*

This abstract by exiled Sudanese artist Mohamed Bushara.

* The above ‘poem’ is actually not about Africa at all. It is an evocation by the NI of sceptical views about the idea of European unity common in the 1950s and 1960s – the first three lines (though not the rest) are direct quotation from French President Charles de Gaulle. The echoes in the current climate of Western scepticism about African unity are clear – yet Africa’s nations were artificial colonial constructs that have only existed for a matter of decades, compared with the centuries of national pride and prejudice which the European Union has managed to transcend since the days of de Gaulle. The abstract above is by the exiled Sudanese artist Mohamed Bushara.


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