Tuesday,22 August, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)
Tuesday,22 August, 2017
Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Africa Day

Africa Day
Africa Day

As Egypt and the rest of Africa celebrate this year’s Africa Day, Al-Ahram Weekly publishes a special supplement examining the challenges and opportunities facing the continent.

Egypt celebrates Africa Day every year on 25 May, which coincides with the anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 that changed its name to the African Union (AU) in July 2002. Africa Day is marked by numerous events and activities that reaffirm Egypt’s membership in the continent’s community and its ongoing commitment to the causes and issues that are of central concern to the African peoples 54 years after the establishment of the OAU.

The OAU was established under difficult circumstances. A large number of African countries were still under European colonial rule. Their natural resources and sources of wealth were being plundered and their peoples oppressed and exploited. Thirty independent states were present at the Addis Ababa Summit meeting that drew up a Charter for the OAU to unify the fate and will of the African peoples. That action would contribute in a dynamic fashion to the liberation of countries that were still under foreign rule and to collective efforts to realise stability and development across the continent.

The most important principles of this landmark document were non-intervention in the domestic affairs of member states and respect for their national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The charter also laid out goals that the nascent organisation would seek to achieve from the moment it was founded. Foremost among these were the complete liberation of the African continent from colonialism, the elimination of economic underdevelopment, the cementing of African solidarity, and the elevation of the continent to the status it merited in international decision-making.

Unfortunately, the many disputes and conflicts that accompanied the OAU’s evolution until it became the African Union inhibited the realisation of many of these goals. Armed conflict and terrorism have continued to gnaw away at all parts of the African continent. Ethnic, religious and tribal conflicts have claimed millions of lives on top of the many millions more who have fallen victim to poverty, starvation, drought or desertification.

To this there should be added the current dogfights between the old colonial powers and the new and emergent world powers such as the US, Russia, China and India, as well as regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Israel, all of them wanting to expand their influence in Africa. Their aim is not to help the peoples of Africa realise their aspirations for sustainable development and thereby to emerge from the dark tunnel in which their countries have been trapped, but rather to secure control over African resources for their own ends and to the detriment of the African peoples.

The role played by Egypt stands out against this backdrop. Egypt has always supported the causes of the African continent, promoted its development plans, reached out a helping hand to fellow African countries at all levels, and expressed their concerns in international forums and organisations. Whenever and wherever possible, Egypt has advocated African demands for justice and for the material, technical and humanitarian support the African countries need in order to build their own capacities and enter into international partnerships with the world powers on a sturdy and equal footing, paving the way to the realisation of the dreams of the African peoples who have been doubly victimised by exploitation and theft and colonialist oppression.

Egyptian diplomacy has also striven to resolve the armed conflicts in various parts of the continent. Most recently it has worked energetically towards this end in Egypt’s capacity as a representative of Africa on the UN Security Council for the 2016-2018 term.

Naturally, Egypt’s dedicated efforts need to be subjected to periodic evaluation so as to enable Egypt to perform its role with ever-increasing efficacy. This entails reviewing the frameworks of co-operation and partnership and stimulating the initiatives and mechanisms that facilitate this role and render it more dynamic. One of the most important of these frameworks is the African Union, and in this regard it is crucial to promote forms of integration between the most important economic blocs on the continent to support arbitration mechanisms and to devise a joint African instrument for fighting terrorism.

Perhaps this is why the Egyptian call, made in the framework of Egypt’s membership of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), for a joint military force that Egypt would help build, train and equip for anti-terrorist purposes has been among the most warmly received proposals of the CEN-SAD member states.

 

Read more

The dream of unity

Africa and the world

China in Africa

Shakespeare vs Voltaire 

Timeline  of African unity

Celebrating African ties

Putting knowledge first

Prioritising economic cooperation

Making Egypt’s voice heard

The lighthouse of Africans

The Mother Church

The silver screen in the dark continent


 

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