Africa Day – Let’s Address the Challenges

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK On the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of Africa Liberation Day tomorrow, Africans should stop looking for scapegoats and re-dedicate themselves to tackling the challenges of the HIV/Aids pandemic and increasing poverty. Other hurdles facing the continent are unemployment and underdevelopment. The Secretary General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum Dr Kasuka Mutukwa stressed the importance of uplifting Africans to economic emancipation. Namibians will join the rest of the continent to mark Africa Liberation Day tomorrow. The day is a public holiday in Namibia. May 25 was designated a public holiday by the liberation Committee of the then Organisation of African Unity in 1963, the forerunner to the African Union (AU). According to Dr Mutukwa, in a broader context, the day is symbolic as it celebrates the “freeing of Africa from the bondages of apartheid and decades of colonialism”. Although it began as freedom from colonial political ties, it has over the years changed into a common cause for all Africans to work towards economic emancipation. The Namibian Government is spearheading efforts towards economic freedom in order to address socio-economic challenges of poverty, HIV/Aids and unemployment. Africa Liberation/Freedom Day should evoke a common goal for all African government leaders to rededicate and refocus their leadership on what Dr Mutukwa terms “participatory democracy”. “There’s a need for cooperation amongst ourselves as Africans and more needs to be done on regional level. That is why popular participation in governance is the key to addressing challenges,” said Dr Mutukwa, adding that the challenge now is to take ownership in resolving own problems. He said there is a need for Africans to stop pointing the blaming finger at colonial injustices for the problems the continent is facing today. Rather, they should explore how tailor-made regional institutions can respond effectively to the plight of Africans in general. “We need to do more on a regional level as we are still faced with a lack of development. Lack of development is money made and it’s now a question of our leaders to look at pro-poor needs of the people. We can change by choice,” he added further. However, in general Africa has come a long way and slowly changed its face from that of being classified a “dark continent” to that of having confidence and responsibility to tackle its own issues. Institutions like the Africa Peace and Security Council are ensuring that peace and stability are pre-requisite for progressive development in any country. On a positive note, the SADC PF Secretary General said he was impressed that Namibia is one of the few African countries that raise the African Union Flag alongside the National Flag, and sings both anthems. “This shows strong commitment of a free and independent Namibia in Africa,” said Dr Mutukwa, adding that this symbolically and significantly shows the close bondage that the country has with the rest of the African continent. Meanwhile, the SWANU political party will hold a meeting in the capital to commemorate the day tomorrow under the theme “Reparation – the Foundation for Justice”. This year, party members decided to focus on the reparation case as part of the 43rd celebration of the Africa Liberation Day. The meeting will take place at the Commando Hall, off Clemence Kapuuo street in Katutura. The gathering is set to provide a platform and solidarity to the advocates of reparations demand, while commemorating the fight for freedom at the same time.