“Africa is today at mid-course, in the transition from the Africa of Yesterday to the Africa of Tomorrow. Even as we stand here, we move from the past into the future. The task, on which we have embarked, the making of Africa, will not wait. We must act, to shape and mould the future and leave our imprint on events as they slip past into history”. Those are words from Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia delivered in May 1963. I can’t help but imagine the zeal, hope, vigour that filled Africa’s founding father when they came together to set in motion Africa’s rebirth. 57 years after, I wonder if looking down at us they are happy with what has become of us after the difficulties they endure to free us from oppression and the hands of those propagating divisions while benefiting from it.
Our founding fathers hoped that in unity and only in unity can we safeguard and unlock our potential. Yes, we are diverse in tongues and tribes. What binds us, however, is far stronger. To enjoy unity in diversity all through the continent, we must begin with celebrating unity in diversity that exists within each of us as individuals. Until we get this right, the unity we need to unlock our potential will remain disunity that is used to oppress and shackle us.
We are not near what we can be as a continent, a truly pan African people bound in love leaving out the true meaning of Ubuntu but you and I can be the people that rekindle the dream and take up the mantle of our forbearers. Let’s allow the pain and sacrifices they made become an inspiration that propels us to action. No mountain is too high to be overcome when we unite as one to take down that mountain. With perseverance, dedication and sacrifice we will see the Africa that our forebears envisioned. We can’t wait to be pushed to a point of no choice before we wake up and start building institutions and putting structures in place that benefits the citizens. Our generation is more connected than ever and we must use all the tools at our disposal to come together and deliver a truly pan African society.
We can’t allow cynicism rule, instead, we all must embrace optimism. It falls upon our generation to ensure our children inherit an Africa that works. A land where dreams are possible in whichever space you look. A continent where ‘a nobody’ can become somebody without needing to know anybody. An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
Where do we start you ask? Begin with reading the Africa Agenda 2063 found here. Find the sectors where you can contribute and start making yourself the right person for the job, in your community, through the platforms you create and other people’s platform, take little actions. When you play your part and I do my part, our actions will compound and our aspirations will become a reality. At the end of the conference in 1963, Julius Nyerere in his closing remarks said some people are praying for the failure of the conference while others are praying for the triumph of pan Africanism. Will you join me to carry on with the mission of our fathers of an Africa diverse in many ways but united as one where the dignity of our women, men and children are upheld and each is allowed to flourish just as God intended for us? We will be the answer of the pan African prayer and be the creation that Haile Selassie referred to in his speech? Happy Africa Day.