Celebrating Africa Day 2023, “The Africa We Want”! Reflections and moving ahead on Pan-Africanism for Socio-Economic Development

Africa Day, which is celebrated annually on May 25, is an important occasion to increase awareness about Pan-African ideals and educate people about the continent’s rich history. This year, the theme of “The Africa We Want” was chosen to highlight Africa’s journey towards achieving socio-economic and political development while shaping a positive future narrative.

The origins of Africa Day can be traced back to the first conference of independent African states held in Ghana in 1958. Between 1958 and 1963, 17 African countries, including Rwanda, gained their independence, leading to the celebration of the “Year of Africa” in 1960, as Pan-African sentiments grew across the continent.

In Rwanda, the Pan African Movement organized a significant celebration of the 60th African Liberation Day, focusing on accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Various prominent Pan-Africanists in Rwanda expressed their views on the significance of Africa Day and its theme:

Protais Musoni, Chairman of the Pan African Movement Rwanda Chapter, highlighted the significance of this day for reflection. He praised the leaders who battled for Africa’s liberation and independence, acknowledging that colonisers had altered the continent’s history. However, Africa has reclaimed its narrative, and Musoni emphasised ongoing challenges such as the exploitation of Africa’s natural riches and the importance of African patriotism. He emphasised that reflection, addressing current difficulties, and African solidarity are the best ways to discover solutions.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, drew attention to the lingering greed in some African countries, particularly with regard to the delayed implementation of the AfCFTA agreements. Ngabitsinze emphasised that approving the agreements would enhance Africa’s economy, helping every country through this historic endeavour.

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Shakilla Umutoni Kazimbaya, Director General of Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, stressed the need for significant investments in infrastructure, education, and other strategic goals. She highlighted the potential of such investments to speed up the implementation of AfCFTA and promote Africa’s overall growth.

Former Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dr. Richard Sezibera, remarked that the lack of a comprehensive legislative framework as impediment to effective coordination and addressing trade obstacles, tariffs, and non-tariff barriers within the continent. He emphasised the importance of African countries working together to develop such a framework for the benefit of everybody.

Eric Ndushabandi, Chairman and Founder of the Centre for Research and Training on Human Rights and Democracy, addressed the prevailing culture of mediocrity in some African countries. He emphasized that this culture has led to weak governance, corruption, and a lack of accountability, all of which have hampered the proper implementation of AfCFTA and Africa’s growth and development potential.

Jane Babirye, a communications student at Mount Kenya University Rwanda, expressed her vision of a proud Africa with passion. She emphasised the necessity of Africans, particularly young, proudly embracing their skin colour, language, and culture. Babirye bemoaned the prevalence of skin bleaching among African women, as well as the preference for foreign languages over home tongues, which she saw as undermining cultural identity. She also expressed concern over young Africans adopting various sexual orientations, emphasising the importance of preserving traditional values.

Africa Day 2023 is a commemoration in which the contributions and perspectives of these Pan-Africanists shine light on the continent’s difficulties and prospects. The event serves as a reminder of the accomplishments gained and a call to action to break down barriers, promote togetherness, and build an inclusive and wealthy Africa for future generations.

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