Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Milton Findley has termed the observance of the 55th anniversary of “Africa Day” as an important milestone, which is all geared toward keeping the continent united as well as sustaining growth and development in Africa.
Minister Findley also stressed that it’s all about African lives being made better; adding, “That is the significance of this day.” The Foreign Minister further stated that Africa Day is a symbolic day to show that Africa is united and wherever Africans are, they are going to be together.
He also stated that the day provides an opportunity to reflect on how far Africans have come, and to recommit themselves to accelerate the efforts to achieve the goals and aspirations of the regional organization, the African Union (AU).
According to a Foreign Ministry release, Liberia’s Foreign Minister made the assertion duringembers of the a brief press stake out following the hoisting of the AU and Liberian flags on the grounds of the Foreign Ministry as part of programs marking “Africa Day,” on Friday, May 25.
“Africa Day,” formerly known as Africa Liberation Day, is celebrated annually on May 25, to mark the determination of the people of Africa to liberate the continent from foreign domination and exploitation as well as the signing of the Charter establishing the OAU.
This year’s Africa Day was celebrated under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”
Speaking further on the memory the day brings to him, Mr. Findley said, “It brings to me as far back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s when Africa had leaders, who had envisioned that Africa would be united. When Africa went from one state, to two, three and today there are 55 and we are still growing. So the unity of Africa is important, that is why we have to celebrate this day.”
The Foreign Minister also stressed that the Day’s theme is essential for the continent’s development and growth; adding: “As you are aware we are talking about reforming and transforming the AU. We are also talking about free trade in Africa.”
For his part, the head of the African Union Liaison Office in Liberia, His Excellency Mr. Ibrahim Mbaba Kamara, said Africa Day is the day all Africans should be proud of.
Ambassador Kamara said as a continent, Africa has embarked on new challenges from its earlier objectives of liberating the continent from foreign domination and exploitation. He praised Liberia of being a founding member of the AU; adding: “Long before that, Liberia has a history of bringing Africa together. Remember we had the Monrovia and the Casablanca groups: they were also referred to as the Conservative and the Radical Groups, which merged into what was previously known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU).”
The OAU was later transformed into the Africa Union, which is today fostering economic integration, the only way for the survival of the continent.
The AU Office head in Liberia also named the promotion of peace, security and stability as new challenges facing Africa which eventually would help to strengthen integration and development across the region.
Ambassador Kamara, who is also the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union, highlighted the pivotal role the AU has played in recent times in resolving conflicts on the continent.
Later in the day, there was a panel discussion, which was addressed by His Excellency Mr. Beng’Yela Augustine Gang, Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon, His Excellency Mr. Vanapalan Punjanathan Moodley, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa and Professor Dr. Augustine Konneh, former Director-General, Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Liberia. The discussion, moderated by Rev. Historian J. Emmanuel Z. Bowier, former Minister of Information, Republic of Liberia, was held under the same theme as the Day. The panel discussion brought together other African diplomats, Liberian students from primary and tertiary institutions and members of civil society groups.
In the evening, a dinner was held where there wasn’t a shortage of delicious cuisines from different African nations, including Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Libya, La Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Egypt and of course cassava leave and potato greens from Liberia.
The Day’s events were successfully organized by Hon. Cllr. Naomi M. Gray, Assistant Minister, Afro Asian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Liberia, who spoke on behalf of Foreign Minister Findley at the opening of the panel discussion, which was held at the Monrovia City Hall.
About the OAU/AU
The Organization of African Union, now the African Union, was formed and established on May 25, 1963, to inter alia, rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonization and apartheid; to promote unity and solidarity among African States; to coordinate and intensify cooperation for development; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and to promote international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations.
Comprising 55 Member States, the AU continues to provide an effective forum that enables its Members to adopt coordinated positions on the international stage, on matters of common concern to the continent; it also defends the interest of Africa effectively.