African Union

Cover Thy Face, Oh African Union!

By Taiwo Abiodun-Oni

Cover Thy Face, Oh African Union!

Once upon a time in the vast continent of Africa, a grand symphony was composed to bring about harmony and unity among the nations. The African Union (AU) was established on July 9, 2002, as the conductor of this grand symphony, orchestrating the melodies and harmonies of peace, democracy, and human rights. Yet, as the years passed, the symphony has been marred by discordant notes, leaving the audience to witness the crescendo of civil wars, coups, military takeovers, and insurrections.

The once-promising overture of peace and stability has given way to a cacophony of failed interventions and unheeded cries. Like a timeworn violin, the AU has been unable to string together the chords of prosperity and security.

As the first movement commenced, the Darfur conflict in Sudan reared its ugly head in 2003, leaving over 300,000 lives extinguished and millions displaced. The conductor’s baton trembled as the AU’s attempts to mediate the crisis through the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) fell short, unable to bring lasting peace to the region.

The symphony’s second movement echoed with the discord of military coups, as the notes of democracy clashed with those of autocracy. In March 2012, the conductor’s baton stuttered again as Mali experienced a coup d’état, toppling its democratically elected government. The AU suspended Mali’s membership, but the unrest continued as Islamist militants seized control of the northern part of the country.

The third movement witnessed the thunderous drumbeats of civil war in Libya, following the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The AU attempted to strike a peaceful note through diplomatic efforts but failed to prevent the spiraling violence and chaos that has plagued the country to this day.

The fourth movement crescendoed with the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, which began in 2009. The conductor’s hand faltered as the AU struggled to address the humanitarian crisis, allowing the extremist group to spread terror and destruction across the Lake Chad Basin region.

The fifth movement was marked by the dissonant chords of the Central African Republic’s (CAR) civil war, which erupted in 2012. The AU’s peacekeeping mission, the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), attempted to stabilize the nation but was unable to stem the tide of violence that has left thousands dead and many more displaced.

In the final movement of this symphony of discord, the notes of conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis have been struck since 2016, with the AU remaining largely silent as the violence escalated between government forces and separatists.

The curtain falls, and the conductor’s baton lies broken, as the African Union’s grand symphony of peace and unity crumbles beneath the weight of its own inadequacies. The AU must now face the dissonant chords it has allowed to permeate its once-hopeful opus. Cover thine face, Oh African Union, and contemplate the cacophony of failed interventions, missed opportunities, and unending strife. Only then can the continent’s magnum opus be rewritten and the harmonious symphony of peace and prosperity resound across Africa’s vast expanse.

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