Namibia yesterday joined all other nations of Africa to celebrate 60 years of enormous promise and potential of the diverse and dynamic continent.
President Hage Geingob in his special commemorative message said the diamond anniversary of Africa Day is a fitting occasion for all Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora, to celebrate the achievements of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and African Union (AU) as an enduring continental body, which has successfully championed the emancipation of the African people from colonial oppression to become masters of their own destiny and development.
“The 25th of May 1963 marked the beginning of a new trajectory in African history. On that day, 60 years ago, delegates from 32 states on the continent who had just attained independence convened to form the OAU, which since 2002 has been transformed into the AU. The formation of this crucial continental body, predicated on the ideals of Pan- Africanism, inaugurated the annual and fitting commemoration of Africa Day,” he said.
The President said the African continent and its people face a number of challenges, which would require redoubling the collective efforts of the African people in order to ensure the prosperity of the African people as part of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
He said that at the time of the founding of the OAU the Founding Fathers gathered in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa and faced an uphill battle in their fight for the decolonization of the African continent.
“The oppressed people of Namibia, who at the time were fighting for independence were represented by the Founding President, Sam Nujoma, who attended as an observer. For that reason, Namibia holds the OAU in high esteem for the pivotal role it played in accompanying the Namibian people towards independence,” he said.
Geingob said that the OAU Coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa played an immense role towards the liberation struggle of Namibia.
“Through the OAU Coordination Committee for the Liberation of Africa, the Continent worked tirelessly and spoke with one voice in support of liberation movements on the Continent. Namibia therefore, benefited from the continent’s solidarity and support to fight against colonialism and apartheid,” he said.
According to the President, Africa has achieved political freedom which was the necessary first condition for the subsequent pursuit of economic freedom and development as stated by the great African Statesman Kwame Nkrumah in his classical speech at the founding of the OAU on May 24, 1963, in Addis Ababa: “The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round”.
“In this context, the conducive conditions of freedom, peace and stability have been created in many African countries. Our work is now cut out to pursue the economic emancipation of the entire African continent. This is what we call the second phase of the struggle for economic emancipation of all Namibians. Without economic freedom and development our freedom would remain incomplete,” he said.
Geingob said the past six decades have observed the freedom of African states, and the weathering of uncharted waters as each member state has been seeking to establish its sovereignty and maintain territorial integrity.
He added that collectively, Africa has weathered unprecedented pandemics that threatened the population of the continent, socio-economic challenges that jeopardized the livelihoods of citizens and geo-political crises that put our collective security at risk.
The President said the AU theme for 2023 is “Acceleration of the AfCFTA Implementation”.
“It is a theme that is telling of the milestones we have achieved as a continent. Indeed, we have come a long way since the formation of the African Union and we have yet miles to go in pursuit of the “Africa We Want,” he said.
He said that responding to the needs of the modern world requires all Africans, to enhance their governance architectures in order to enable them to act in the best interest of the continent and its citizens.
“To this extent, Africa has undergone a period of steady growth and advancement since the days of the First Wave of African leaders, freedom-fighting pioneers and extraordinary personalities, who paved the way towards independence,” he said.
According to Geingob, global conflict in the form of the Cold War followed this period which resulted in Africa’s Second Wave leaders being caught up in the malaise of military coups and One-Party States. However, having emerged from this tumultuous period, the Third Wave of African leaders have ushered in an era defined by democratic elections and term limits.
“This is the new order on our continent and although we admit that there have been reversals in certain instances, the positive outcome is that wherever such incidents have taken place, the African Union, supported by respective Regional Economic Communities (RECs), has ensured that perpetrators of undemocratic ascendance to power are ostracised. This is the New Africa, and an Africa, which believes in Constitutional Order where processes, systems and institutions are central in the Governance architecture,” he said.
He added that commemorating Africa Day is consistent with the aspirations of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
“It reminds us of the efforts we must invest to realize the vision of an Africa at peace with itself; an integrated and prosperous Africa, driven by its citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. It is a day on which we reflect on our shared experience, struggle and triumph while encouraging ourselves towards a better future,” Geingob said.
The president was of the opinion that the commemoration of Africa Day each year consolidates the continent’s pursuit of peace and progress and provides Africans with an appreciation of the strides they have made as well as an appreciation of the areas that need improvement.
“It is encouraging that in Namibia the process of popularizing Africa and African Unity has already started. The AU flag flies proudly along our national flag at public buildings and the AU Anthem is sung in tandem with our National Anthem at all state functions,” he said.
President Geingob said that as Africans, every citizen must continue to promote and broaden these practices.
“Let us make Africa proud. Let us be a shining example of what Mother Africa has produced. Let us make Africa the Tree of Life,” he concluded.