Excellency, Madam Deputy Secretary General,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the African Diaspora Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to welcome you, on behalf of the African Group at this historic celebration of Africa Day 2012. This year’s celebration acquires particular historical significance – on the heels of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Founding of our continental organization next year. The celebration also comes in the wake of another milestone event - the organization of the first ever Global Diaspora Summit on May 25, 2012 in South Africa coinciding with Africa Day.
As recalled by the Current Chairman of the African Union, H. E. Mr. Boni YAYI, President of the Republic of Benin, in his statement on the occasion of Africa Day, and I quote: “The duty of memory which is the celebration each year of Africa Day offers an opportunity to arouse Africa and Africans in order to respond positively and effectively to the growing and multifaceted challenges strewn along the paths of development, peace, equality as well as democratic and economic governance of the continent” unquote. The Current Chairman also touched on some of the fundamental challenges confronting the African continent which have found expression in the management of democratic changes and the unfortunate resurgence of coups d’états.
For his part, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H. E. Jean Ping called for renewed commitment and intensified efforts to accelerate economic growth in a more sustainable and inclusive manner with particular attention to the reduction of political crises, the promotion of attractive investment codes and practices, the development of human capital and infrastructure within the dynamics of regional integration and boosting of intra-African trade.
Africa’s collective quest for stability and development has therefore witnessed an ever-changing political, security and socio economic landscape unleashing both challenges and opportunities. The African continent is determined to overcome the challenges it faces – this optimistic picture is based on recent positive developments and the wind of change blowing through the continent since the beginning of this century. The sustenance of this African Renaissance will certainly crystallize our vision of a united, strong and prosperous Africa, the large and increasing population of Africa coupled with the continent’s enormous natural resources endowment as well as the intensity of institution building at the continental and sub-regional levels is also a source for our optimism about the future.
For this purpose, Africa’s leadership and vision to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s uncertainties as well as opportunities remains indispensable as we endow ourselves with the requisite capacity in order to take the bold steps that the changing international landscape demands. Moreover, we are conscious of the need to remain steadfast and guard against the deceptive comfort of status quo offers, as it erodes our capacity to explore innovative solutions and better anticipate the future.
These efforts require the contribution of all the Daughters and sons of Africa both in the continent and the Diaspora including enhancing innovative partnerships based on shared values at bilateral and multilateral levels.
The African continent is very appreciative of the partnership developed between the United Nations and regional bodies such as the Africa Union and sub-regional organizations particularly on issues of peace and security based on the increasing recognition within the international community that support by the United Nations to regional organizations in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security is an integral part of collective security as provided for in the UN Charter.
At this juncture, I wish to express our most sincere gratitude to the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, represented here by H. E. Aisha Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary General, a dignified daughter of Africa, for his tireless efforts and unflinching commitment to Africa.
This event is a brilliant case of how important is to have at home a solid backing provided by our spouses. This Africa Day is especially their day, when our African spouses demonstrate to the world here at the United Nations, their abundant talent, the richness, variety and good taste of our African cuisines but particularly also for the expression of the African mother love for the continent. We are all extremely thankful for this.
I would be remiss to conclude without paying tribute to the departed illustrious Sons and Daughters of Africa who selflessly fought a good fight laying down their lives for the hard won wave of independence that swept across the continent in the past 49 years.
It is this same spirit and legacies of our Founding fathers that we as a People, imbued with a shared responsibility shall push towards the mark of a higher call for Africa – Africa free from fear and want, a united and prosperous Africa at peace with itself and with the rest of the world. Africa Day is a day of rededication to our common destiny of dignity and prosperity.
I thank you for joining us in celebrating Africa Day 2012.
God Bless Africa.