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Page added on May 26, 2010
Colleague Ministers of Government,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Â Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Members of the Fourth Estate
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
I feel greatly honoured to be a part of the 25th May, celebrations of Africa Day, but more importantly to step in the shoes of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who would have loved to be with you if other equally important State matters would have allowed him to do so. That not withstanding, we should all note that today is undoubtedly, another important day in the history of the African Union and as a nation we are delighted to be a part of its commemoration.
Â On 25th May 1963, exactly 47 years ago about thirty illustrious leaders including Sir Milton Margai of our continent, at the invitation of His Majesty Haile Selassie I, the then Emperor of Ethiopia, gathered in Addis Ababa to chart a new course for the people of Africa.Â That meeting marked the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union. The formation of the OAU, also ended the rivalries between the leaderships of the Casablanca group of countries and the Monrovia Group-the leaders of the Casablanca group had included Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Modibo Keita of Mali, Algeriaâ€™s Ben Bela- whilst the Monrovia Group included moderates such as Sir Milton Margai, Liberiaâ€™s Dr. William Tubman, Ivory Coastâ€™s Houphouet Boigny, Nigeriaâ€™s Abubakarr Tafawa Belewa and others.
This merger, the creation of the OAU can better be explained by recalling the visionary words of the Emperor at the occasion.Â He said, â€œThe task on which we have embarked, the making of Africa, will not wait.Â We must act to shape and mould our continent to occupy its rightful pride of place in the worldâ€.
Among the leaders whose footprints continue to stand out as a legacy is Sierra Leoneâ€™s Siaka Stevens who among other African leaders served as Chairman of the OAU and his tenure as Chairman will still be remembered by the position he took at the United Nations when he insisted that the growing number of refugees and displaced personsÂ in the African continent at the time which resulted in instability in Mozambique, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe was a threat for African peace and solidarity.
Sierra Leoneans should therefore be proud of the historical role played by Sierra Leone in the moulding of the OAU.
The OAU has come and gone but its historical legacies are still here with us.Â It successfully completed the task of Africaâ€™s decolonization and vanquished apartheid. The OAUâ€™s successor, the African Union (AU), has provided us with a new opportunity to find African solutions to African problems, not only in the promotion of peace, security and stability on the continent, but also in the acceleration of its political and socio-economic integration and development.
In July 2001, the AU established the new Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (NEPAD) and followed it up with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to address the political and corporate economic governance of the African.
We have also established important organs such as the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSSOC), as well as the Peace and Security Council (PSC), not to mention efforts to operationalise the African Court on Human and Peoplesâ€™ Rights.Â All these organs and institutions have enhanced the way we do business in Africa, brought peace and stability to large parts of the continent and increased the momentum for Africaâ€™s integration and development.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, it is refreshing to note that in January this year, Member States of the African Union declared 2010 as the year of peace during a special session in Tripoli, Libya where leaders made thisÂ pledge:Â â€œWe are determined to deal once and for all with the scourge of conflicts and violence on the continent, acknowledging our shortcomings and errors, committing our resources and our best people, and missing no opportunity to push forward the agenda of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and conflict reconstruction.Â We as leaders simply cannot bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africansâ€.
In keeping with the pledge, I am particularly happy with the achievements we have made in terms of building the peace within and without Sierra Leone. Despite our brutal past, the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission create room for the building of a new Sierra Leone based on the values of human dignity, tolerance and respect for the rights of all persons.Â To this end the government has been trying very hard to continue with the implementation of the TRC recommendations, in the name of making peace happen which is the theme of this yearâ€™s celebration.
Some of the efforts in the implementation of the TRC are manifested by the teaching of conflict prevention mechanisms in our tertiary institutions, the setting up of human right institutions to address human rights issues, institutional reforms including the creation of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation to promote freedom of Information all in an effort to promote good governance. Also important is the setting up of the Anti-Corruption Commission to combat corruption, the provision of reparations to war victims whose human rights were severely abused during the war and post-conflict reconstruction all over the country, to name a few.
Indeed, Sierra Leone like the rest of Africa has made remarkable progress, but the progress we have made so far should not induce in us a feeling of complacency.Â As we all know, the greatest enemies of this nation, like in most countries in Africa, continue to be underdevelopment with its manifestations of instability, poverty, the impact of the HIV/Aids pandemic, the scourged of malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases which constitute the core of the current challenges.
On the international scene, Africa operates largely in a political and economic environment that is not only unfriendly but also inimical to our developmental efforts.Â Our economic performance is continually affected by exogenous institutional arrangements and policies, which have a negative impact on our economies.
The African Union should at this point in time adopt a pragmatic and business-like approach in engaging our partners launch continental projects, especially in the area of energy, telecommunications, infrastructure etc. to boost the continentâ€™s development and attract more investments.Â It is in this vain that I particularly find the theme for the celebration of this yearâ€™s African Day, â€œMake Peace Happenâ€ most appropriate; because without peace we cannot achieve any of these dreams.
I will conclude by saying that the founding fathers must be certainly proud of the efforts we continue to make in realizing their laudable vision some 47 years ago.Â â€œThe making of Africa as was cited by Emperor Haile Selassie can indeed not wait.Â As we celebrate African Day with the theme â€œMake Peace happenâ€ let us, remain steadfast in our resolve to fashion out a common strategy to overcome our problems. Jaw jaw we are told is better than war war.
The establishment of the African Union has brought to us dynamism, vision and purpose in our quest to become a major player in the current process of globalization, and we must seize the opportunity to do more for our people who have invested their trust in us.Long Live Sierra Leone! Long live African Union! Long live Africa!Â I thank you. I thank you!
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