Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Pan-Africanism as a concept came under scrutiny Friday at the conference of intellectuals underway here, with members of a committee on the theme differing over the feasibility of a functionally united Africa.
Pessimists argue that independent Africa has been too turbulent to allow for any meaningful integration, what with its track record of dictatorships, putsches and political oppression.
According to them, the post-Independence period has been 40 years of dismal failure characterised by some 60 coups, thousands of political detainees and millions facing famine or dying from hunger and disease.
A participant from Egypt raised the problem of communication among African States, charging that available infrastructure and service delivery were so marginal that it took her two days to fly from Cairo to Dakar for the conference.
Impediments to free movement of people and goods between some countries of the even same sub-regional grouping, were also raised.
The consensus, though, was that governments should be prodded towards an integrative State accommodating not only local communities but opening up to intra-African migration.
A Pan-African passport was also suggested, but a participant from the African Maghreb region felt it would be more pragmatic to issue such passports selectively, limiting them to experts and professionals who could spread their knowledge and skills continent-wide.
Concerning funding for the African Union, a participant proposed an air travel levy of a dollar for every air ticket to and from Africa.
Some delegates also said Africa should revert to its indigenous organisation of society and government as a panacea to structural frictions encountered with the Western conception of democracy.
Still, others, countered that the problem with governance in Africa stemmed not so much from the framework or system of government as from the manner in which power and authority is dispensed.
The growing alienation of African youth from their roots or culture was cited as another major problem and it was generally agreed that an inter-generational hook-up was needed to reorient the youth currently gravitating towards Western styles and values.