Appeal for single African passport
A Ghanian MP at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) gathering in Midrand, South Africa yesterday mooted the idea of launching a common African passport to boost the integration of all Africans.
Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, who is also the Ghanaian NDC party’s chief whip, believes that a common African passport will create a common identity for all Africans, adding that it took Africa about 40 years to establish the Pan-African Parliament, therefore action should be taken now towards the birth of a African passport.
Speaking exclusively to New Era on the sidelines of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Third PAP currently underway in Midrand, Muntaka said: “As legitimate as it is for us as parliamentarians to demand diplomatic passports, I just thought it will be more legitimate to fight for the African people to have a common passport. Some regions such as West Africa use a common passport, but I believe the integration of one region out of the five on the continent will never integrate us as a continent, we must all sacrifice to have a common identity.”
“It is a shame for us as parliamentarians to be sitting here and fighting about there not being enough French, Arabic, Portuguese or English translators while we have African languages that we can speak,” said Muntaka.
Muntaka said continental integration would allow Africans to do things together such as “cross-marriages and trade” and at the same time make it easier for one common African language.
“Our wish for integration will be faster through our people rather than politicians. Politicians cannot integrate the people, all we can do is to give them a common identity, and trust me within 10 years this continent will be integrated,” he said.
The MP said a common passport would also make it easier for Africans to travel across the continent without any restrictions.
Muntaka claims Africans identify themselves through their nationalities instead of having a common identity as Africans because most have chosen to compartmentalize their minds.
“It will be very difficult for people who do not know us to tell that you and I are not brothers or that I am from Ghana and you from Namibia unless we open our mouths and tell them that we are not related,” he explained.
Professor Peter Katjavivi, the Swapo Party chief whip, who is also the Namibian head to the Pan-African Parliament, said: “Through regional integration we [African states] can do things together and learn from it. Regional unity is a building bloc that will inform us and help us to build continental unity.”
He added: “During the course of cooperation that could be achieved through regional integration there are also talks of identifying instruments that could be used to make sure that we in Southern Africa cooperate to the maximum.” .
“In West Africa they talk of a West African passport, a document that helps citizens of the West African nations to communicate with each other and to facilitate the movement across countries,” he noted
“In this case we talk of moving further than the regions to promoting continental unity and cooperation. It is considered a dream, but the time has come to translate this dream into reality so that Africans can see benefits of working together across national boundaries,” said Katjavivi.
“Here we are at the headquarters of the Pan-African Parliament, whoever thought we will have a continental parliament in which members from national parliaments from over 50 member states are meeting. This is an important step in the right direction and in consolidating the unity of the African people,” he said. Katjavivi said the fundamental interests of Africa should always be kept in mind.
Deceased Libyan President Muammar Gaddhafi also mooted the idea and at the same time advocated the immediate creation of a unity government, with an African military and single African currency.