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June 2000

Since 1996, when the AUF first put out political press releases to the international media, a great deal of things have changed on the ground. There has been a rapid explosion of awareness about African unity, and more and more the public has come to accept that it is a legitimate and attainable goal, no longer in the realm of political fantasy.

A few years ago when one went to the press about unification, a typical interview by a reporter would often be "what country are you from?" The normal answer would be "Africa" which would then be followed by "which country in Africa", and this would lead to a lot of awkward argumentation about whether or not it mattered what country, or that we weren't being cooperative by claiming that we recognized only Africa, not the neocolonial republics as the primary entity by which we identified ourselves. It was hard to get anyone to take you seriously.

The usual refrain was, "it is a great idea, but it will never work", or "Africans are too divided, they can't work together", and so on..., but things have become easier, perhaps in part because AUF members are themselves becoming more comfortable and more skilled at articulating the vision of African unification.

Times have become better as people in the media and the public begin to accept the answers of the AUF without chagrin or argument. Of course it has helped that OAU Chair Salim Salim, and the highly visible Abdulaye Wade, the late Mualimu Julius Nyerere, and others have drawn attention to the cause. But it is always lonely when the discussion is removed from the conference room to the street, the pub, the army patrol, or the office. You have to be able to answer complex questions in order to gain the confidence of listeners.

Many other Africans too numerous to mention have laid the ground work, it is now up to us to make inroads into traditionally off-limit circles, and to change attitudes. The task of the AUF is take African unity from theory and put it into practice. In recent years AUF members who are community leaders have done commendable work to offset the effects of those who have been throwing cold water on the struggle.

Unification has become the leading priority in African politics. We must take the initiative to push for transparent political convergence, and in building collaborative niches with local community groups, political parties, corporations, NGOs. The forces that tend to keep us down will be hard at work trying to derail the struggle, by tempting short-term gains at the expense of unification, and by trying to misrepresent the achievements of Pan Africanism, Afrocentrism, Historic Africanism, and African Unificationism.

We shall use every opportunity engage and get response, and sustain the momentum of the struggle until we win over all of our peoples and the rest of the world. Unification cannot happen automatically, it has to be fought for, we have to strive, move things, and nudge people along. Behind the scenes, at conferences, dinners, discussions, in schools, inside churches, temples, mosques, and inside organizations of all kinds the AUF has been working to change the attitudes of people towards unity.

Todate, the number of active recruiters is growing, the message is getting out there, people are engaging, getting turned on, and picking up on the sense of determination and resolve that is the hallmark of the AUF, and they are responding favourably and joining in the process of contributing to advance African unity to the next practical level.

The AUF is raising unification awareness, and looking forward to the coming years. We expect the future will be challenging but exciting, as we shift Africa's collective focus towards a single agenda for our communities. Practical unity is no longer something that dreamers did, it is here to stay, and it is fighting for respect. We have to make unity the starting point and the endpoint of a great new golden age for Africa.

Ex Unitate Vires