The wider East African region is special – and even notorious – in Africa. In the past 18 years it has produced more new or wanna-be-new nations than all of Africa combined. In 1993 Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed a mutual and happy divorce. The good vibes didn’t last; they became bitter enemies and fought after it happened. In 1991, after the Siad Barre regime was overthrown, Somalia plunged into chaos. A few years later Puntland hived itself off as a semi-independent nation. Somaliland too jumped ship. Unlike Puntland, which is open to joining a future, peaceful Somalia federation or confederation, Somaliland is determined to be independent.

In February this year, South Sudan voted by nearly 100 per cent to secede from Sudan, and in July formally became Africa’s newest country. That is four major border remakes in less than 20 years. How many new countries have arisen in the rest of Africa as a result of a break-up of existing countries (Saharawi Republic doesn’t count)? ZERO!! Precisely because secessionist and breakaway demons roam the wider East Africa, the feeling is that over the next 20 to 50 years, we shall see more nations breaking up or being swallowed as others grow.

For anyone interested in the future borders of what is sometimes called the Greater Horn of Eastern Africa (GHEA) – comprising Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo – two studies are recommended. The first is a popular piece of work “Fluid Borders: Integration, Federation, and Fragmentation”, by the Society for International Development (SID) which was published in its journal Greater Horn of Eastern Africa Outlook (November 2010).

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