By Mahmood Mamdani
‘East Africa has two post-colonial traditions of citizenship’, writes Mahmood Mamdani: territorial and ethnic. If the region is to have a political federation, it will need to be based on a common citizenship, he argues: ‘Which one will it be?’
I became interested in the question of why the old community collapsed after I returned to Uganda from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1979. I spent months reading community files in government ministries in Kampala. I was struck that the debate on the Community unfolded as a debate between states only. I could not locate an independent discussion that cut across state lines.
If we limit the discussion on the old community to external rivalries that imploded the old community from within, then we will inevitably conclude that there is little we can do about forces we do not control. But if we can expand the discussion to look at our own failure to develop a public discourse on East African issues, then we can move a step forward. The discussion needs to involve broad sectors of East African society. By not leaving the initiative to the political class, we can contribute to exploring different options and rallying new forces.