Shortly before Air Force One touched down in Nairobi for a historic first-ever visit to Kenya by a serving US President, history was being made in Zanzibar where an association of former African heads of state was born during the 2015 edition of the Global Peace Leadership Conference.
The new baby christened “Africa Leadership Mission on Peace Building” is the first of its kind in Africa. It was midwifed by Zanzibar’s former president Amani Karume, Rupia Banda (Zambia) and Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Other listed members of the association, who were not present, were Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo, Grime Wolde Giorgis (Ethiopia), Joyce Hilda Banda (Malawi), Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda, Ali Hassan Mwinyi (Tanzania) and Sir James Mancham of Seychelles.
Also absent with apology were co-opted members Dr Manilal Chandaria of the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Leadership Council Chairman and Dr Markendey Rai, Senior Adviser at the UN Habitat.
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Mr Karume, who together with the International President of GPF James Flyn co-chaired the conference, seemed to have read US President Barack Obama’s mind long before his Addis Ababa visit on some African leaders clinging on to power. He termed it the the genesis of political problems in Africa. Karume asked African leaders to respect terms of leadership.
“You cannot please everybody and the longer you stay, the more you incur the disillusionment of the population,” he said.
The African Leaders Mission laid emphasis on moral and innovative leadership to drive the continent forward.
Karume cited armed violence in South Sudan and Somalia, mass uprising in Burundi in protest against an extended presidential term, the bloody Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroun and sporadic Al Shabaab attacks in Kenya and Uganda as serious issues that the association would confront during discussions with their serving counterparts.
Zambia’s former president asked African leaders to put forward concrete strategies aimed at winning and maintaining peace for the good of the youth and future generations. “It behooves us, the elder statesmen and women to propose practical solutions to the issues of youth leadership and service,” he said.
Raila asked African leaders to guard against inter-communal disharmony that had a lot to do with governments in power and the elite dividing citizens on ethnic lines for their selfish ends.
“Historical injustices and discrimination are easily exploited by those who propagate hate and conflict. They are ingredients for those who recruit the youth into terrorism,” said Raila.
The former PM praised founding Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere for his ideals that molded the nation by creating higher values upon which to aspire.
“Mwalimu was able to unite so many diverse communities by building what he called Utanzania,” he said.
East African Community Secretary General Richard Sezibera hailed the formation of the association as timely at a time the continent was facing immense insecurity and other challenges.