Thousands Mark Africa Day

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK “Unity of the African people is the strongest weapon available to us in our efforts to rid our continent of the scourges of degradation, poverty and underdevelopment.” President Hifikepunye Pohamba said this when he officially addressed hundreds of Namibians who commemorated Africa Day at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura yesterday. Close to 2 000 people, among them children, the elderly as well as dignitaries and Members of Parliament attended the 43rd Anniversary of Africa Day celebration on a rather windy but sunny day. During his keynote address, the President strongly reiterated the call for unity and for all Africans and Namibians in particular to rededicate themselves to the struggle for socio-economic development for a prosperous future for the continent. In the same spirit he urged for the ethic of hard work in order to achieve the realisa-tion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “Africa must work harder to realise the Millennium Development Goals by embarking on effective pro-grammes that address the economic and social plight of our people,” the President told an attentive crowd. It is only through unity of purpose that Africa can effectively address its current socio-economic challenges of HIV/Aids, poverty and underdevelopment, he said. This unifying encouragement from the President is seen in light of this year’s celebratory theme, namely: “Working Together for Integration and Development”. May 25 every year is a significant day of celebration where Namibians join the rest of Africa not only to commemorate the struggle for freedom from years of colonialism, but also seek to transform the continent into one of progressive socio-economic development. Paying tribute to the many pioneering fathers of the liberation struggle including Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma who represented Namibia at the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 in Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam, President Pohamba noted that May 25 marks the birth of the OAU, which was later transformed to the African Union (AU) in July 2002 in Durban, South Africa. “We will forever owe a debt of gratitude to the OAU Liberation Committee and the Frontline States who played a pivotal role during the difficult years of the struggle for the independence of Namibia,” he added. Homage was also paid to African pioneers like Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal, Abdel Nasser, Haille Selassie, Sekou Toure, Julius Nyerere, Augustinho Neto, Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba and Sir Seretse Khama. Although Africa is bestowed with wealth and natural resources it contributes only 1 percent to the world economy. Dr Andre Strauss at the same occasion said that this is too little and more should be done in what he termed the “economic fight”. “We will not get control of our wealth if we do not engage in battle,” added Dr Strauss. He explained that Africans should be careful not to embrace systems based on corruption, greed, consumerism, exploitation and self-enrichment at the expense of others, but rather consciously control the rights over natural resources. This is the only way that the continent can achieve economic emancipation and thereby ensure that this becomes an African century. Although the continent is facing numerous developmental challenges, barely four years after the African Union was launched, there are signs of progress in the implementation of development programmes and initiatives under the AU and its economic arm, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Furthermore, the Peace and Security Council has already started to make significant impacts in conflict prevention and peacekeeping operations on the continent. Peacekeeping contingents have been deployed in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. These are seen to be clear signs that Africans are becoming masters of their own destiny. A calling was also echoed by the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps Tuneya Hussein Dado, who was reading the speech of the AU Chairperson Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguessou. Dado said Africans need to pull the continent out of its weakness and individualism, into one that is respected and responsible. The 43rd anniversary of Africa Day ended off with the lively sounds of the Ndilimani Cultural Group.