“Integrating for the Future”: Research on the Proposed East African Federation by Daniel Ndirangu (A’21)

by jtijssen
Sep 06

My research project on the proposed East African Federation this summer has thus far been as rewarding as it has been challenging. The East African Federation is a union in which six countries in East Africa -- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan -- would undergo various stages of integration to culminate in the formation of a political federation, which would mean the dissolution of state borders and the formation of a super-nation.

Being Kenyan myself, this process deeply affects my identity, as well as the future of many East Africans. This process is deeply intricate and requires the greatest levels of cooperation and willingness between partner states. This summer, I sought to more deeply understand how far along the integration process was, as well the structures that had been put in place to ensure its success.

I sought to interview a broad range of individuals with knowledge on the topic, from academics to think tanks. This week, I managed to interview various academics who have done extensive research on the topic. Within the first minutes of these interviews, one thing becomes increasingly clear – there is a lot of discussion of the topic in the political and economic elite, but little to no discussion among ordinary citizens. Political and economic integration has been deeply encouraged, but no one is looking to bolster social integration among the deeply diverse populations encompassed within the political federation. Being that the federation is to be the biggest country by land mass in Africa as well as the second most populous nation on the continent, it is imperative that integration is emphasized on all levels.

As I gear towards my second week of interviews, I look forward to gaining more valuable insight on the integration process as well gaining a more nuanced understanding of the opportunities and challenges that this union is expected to face. As one interviewee put it, “Integration is the future, we must embrace each other in the hope for a better future.”