Unquestionably, Africa is now a continent on the rise and, increasingly, it is speaking with one voice in pursuit of stability, more developmental opportunities and more balanced partnerships.
These were the words of His Excellency Jean De Dieu Uwihanganye, the high commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda in Singapore as well as dean of African Group of Ambassadors in Singapore, in a recent interview he did with us at Diplomatic Network (Asia).
He couldn’t be more correct in saying this. Too often, the global media talks of Africa’s shortcomings but not on May 25, or Africa Day.
Today is not only the day that Africa and the African diaspora celebrate the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, but also a day to reflect on the future of Africa as well as the progress that has been made.
The OAU, which was established in 1963, was created as a driving force for “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”, according to its mission statement.
This is what we are celebrating today: progress.
Hardline journalists may turn their noses up at the idea of ‘positive news’, while readers are naturally more drawn to the more grisly and shocking side of humanity – which is why sensationalism sells so well.
So, instead of lamenting on the struggles, DNA would like to offer a sliver of insight into the progress which is being made today in Africa.
In Kenya, locally-made USD40.00 smartphones are being rolled out to drive digital access.
In Nigeria, the world’s largest single-train oil refinery was just opened with the use of the best plants and equipment as well as the latest technology from around the world.
In Sudan, during recently passed Ramadan, people would stop traffic in the evenings and invite strangers to join them for iftar, the fast-breaking evening meal of Muslims during Ramadan.
In art, African artists are being not only being showcased internationally, but are stunning the global art scenes. Look up the names of Julie Mehretu (Ethiopia), Wangechi Mutu (Kenya), Yinka Shonibare (British-Nigerian), El Anatusi (Ghana) or Amoako Boafo (Ghana).
Lastly, and more broadly, income inequality has been declining for decades with poverty rates dropping in most African countries, according to a World Bank report released at the end of 2022.
With this year’s Africa Day slogan being “Our Africa Our Future”, it’s clear that the AU is going back to its roots.
Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia, said at the formation of the OAU:
“Even as we stand here, we move from the past into the future. The task, on which we have embarked, the making of Africa, will not wait. We must act, to shape and mould the future and leave our imprint on events as they slip past into history.”
Today, on Africa Day, as we stand here and move from the past into the future, let us contemplate the progress that has been made, while of course acknowledging the struggles which have been borne along the way.
One would not understand true solace at sundown without having donned a heavy yolk at midday.
DNA wishes all Africans across the globe, with a special mention to those in Southeast Asia, a happy Africa Day.