More remains to be done even as independent Africa turns 50
| May 27th 2013
When Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Guinea President Ahmed Sékou Touré and President William V. S. Tubman of Liberia met Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie in 1957, they had a far-reaching conversation. And while they reveled in their newfound freedom, they wished all of Africa could unshackle the chains of colonialism. They consulted widely and helped found the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
The founding members allowed Liberia to host the first OAU conference, in Sanniqullie. Later the new umbrella body, which was a compromise between those that aspired for a confederation, sort of a United States of Africa and those who wanted each country to retain its independence and separate identity, agreed for the OAU to be headquartered in Addis Ababa capital of Ethiopia, one of just two African countries never to have been colonised (alongside Liberia).
The OAU became the African Union in 2002.
And this past week as African leaders of the 54-member AU, led celebrations for the 50th jubilee of the bloc, the powerful speech by US President Barack Obama visited Accra, in 2009: “History is on the side of brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, but strong institutions… Governments that respect the will of their people are more prosperous, more stable, and more successful...”
He added: “You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and build institutions that serve the people. You can conquer disease, end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, US Secretary of State John Kerry, France President Francois Hollande and China Vice-Premier Wang Yang joined 10,000 guests in the ceremony that will set the AU back a princely $1.27-million.
And with Africa, being home to some of the fastest growing economies and enviable development indicators?on better including health, education levels heading north, reduced infant mortality, and burgeoning democracy is indeed home to some very brave people.
However, the contradiction of being domicile to 24 out of the 25 nations at the bottom of UN human development index means some rather uncomfortable conversations need to take place and some of the champagne should, perhaps, remain un-popped.
Kenya stands tall among this glittering array of nations as a solid defender of human rights, bastion of democratic governance, global team player and pool of knowledge as she basks in the afterglow of the information and telecommunications explosion.
Even as the AU looks back on its 50-year existence, Kenya, too, interrogates its own similar birthday. The challenges remain similar to those our Founding Fathers faced including elimination poverty, growing a healthy populace, feeding Kenya and defeating poverty.
Kenyans have their work cut out to align themselves with the fast-approaching Millennium Development Goals’ 2015 date and the expansive Vision 2030.
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