On theatlantic.com page devoted to my new essay on the birth of South Sudan, the abuse I receive for promoting greater division of African political boundaries – and thus more African nations – we find the predictable responses from readers – many of whom are masked by monnikers and psuedonyms of the cowardly – are trapped in older forms of nationalism which no longer usually apply to sub-Sahara, if they ever did. Ask expected, if you ask these same people – for some of written me individually in such a manner – if they want independence for their aggrieved sub-national terroritory and they always say, yes. So often their logic doesn’t apply to them, only others.
The most important issue about sub-nationality and seccessions that went unmentioned in my Atlantic piece is rather non-obvious. I also fave amalgamating some African nations. So while some African polities can be very small, some existing small ones could be better served by merging with healthier neighbors. Malawi provides a convincing case. Even Hastings Banda, the country’s independence, protested when he learned that Malawi would have independence only as a solo affair and not as part of the-then Northern Rhodesia (or Zambia today). When I visited Malawi several years ago, during hard times for most of its people, I became convinced that Malawi (as a political entity) deserved to die, and that its people (let’s call them the “former Malawians”) would be better served as an autonomous region under Mozambique. In the years since, Malawi has rallied, its politicians having shown uncharacteristic moxie expecially in regards to some effective, if unorthodox, agricultural policies.
But my general point still holds. Just as Africa ought to produce many new nation-states, out of the ineffective ungovernable super-states that currently make healthy politics impossible, some very ineffective African nation-states should expire. Togo is a prime example. A dictator dies, his son takes power, holds a sham election, keeps power. No one cares, not even the people of Togo. I say release them for the bondage of Togo-hood and split this very small, poor and profoundly abused piece of territory among Ghana and Benin. So much would be gained in human happiness and virtually nothing would be lost … in a world without a Togo.