50th Anniversary of the Founding of the African Union

Date/Location : Wednesday 26 June 2013, NLB 3


H.E. Ambassador Tete Antonio, H.E. Mr. Roble Olhaye, Dr. Ali. A. Mazrui (Keynote speaker), Dr. Jakkie Cilliers, Ms. Awa Dabo, and Professor Horace Campbell

 Attended and Written by: Iman Yashruti


This meeting was largely discussing the past, present and future of Africa in parallel with the themes of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance. Decades after the founding of the OAU (Organization of African Unity), and after the constant struggle for African independence and self determination, Africa is now on the rise politically, economically, and socially.

To start his speech, Dr. Ali. A. Mazrui discussed the differences between the AU and the OAU. The major difference between the two groups is that the AU believes that there should be integration on a super-state level between all of Africa while the OAU believes in the separation of the African counties. The African Union is much more ambitious as it believes in integration on a continental in scale. He also mentioned how many African leaders believe the ICC not fair to smaller countries.

Large and powerful countries who have perpetrated wars and have committed major abuses of power have been allowed to get away with their actions while African leaders are unjustly targeted. Dr. Mazrui and Professor Horace Campbell also discussed NATOs “catastrophic failure in Libya”, as this was an example of Western powers restricting Africans in reclaiming their narrative. While the African leaders from the AU attempted to get the parties to talk to each other and see if there was a middle ground, imperialism under NATO ignored these discussions and made it impossible for the AU to succeed.

Two major sources of growth in Africa are the growth of the African economy and the growth in the African population. Africa’s economy has grown due to structural change, not from an economic “bubble”. Contributing to this growth, China-Africa economic trade has gone up 1510% in the last 10 years. Dr. Cilliers warned, “If China sneezes, Africa will get pneumonia”. The population also continues to grow in Africa; in 1960 Africa consisted of 9% of the world population, in 2010 it was 15%, and by 2025, there will be more Africans that Chinese and Indians.

 For African women, the ideas of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance are not helping gender equality. Violence against women is easily tolerated and education for women and girls is unacceptably low. There needs to be better legislation to stop discrimination of women and a focus on strengthening the voices of women in their economic capacity, as the economic empowerment of women is crucial for sustainable development.

Ms. Awa Dabo ended by stating – “Enough with this romanticism- we must look at the real issues and see some real action. Yes we have made some successes but we have long way to go.”

Edited By; Wayne Dean Doyle

Image Rights;in2eastafrica.com

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