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Statement by the Civil Society

Augustine Njamnshi

Thank you for this honor and the special place given to the African civil society with the holding of this forum.

Let me begin by acknowledging the distinguished dignitaries present here today:

  • Vice President Blanke
  • Vice President Khaled
  • Honorable Minister Oumarou from Niger
  • Director Moungar
  • Executive Director Dieye

It is indeed an honor for me to share this platform with all of you. It is exactly a decade since the Bank started organsing this event and this is therefore a forum with a difference.. This is a testament of our collective commitment to an integrated and prosperous Africa; and a recognition of the role that the civil society must play in this project.

Dear Colleagues of the African Civil Society,

Dear partners of Africa and the African Civil Society

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

The Pan-African consciousness has always sought to strengthen the bonds that tie us as descendants of this great continent. Wherever we find ourselves, the pan Africanism doctrine prompts us to recognize and celebrate our shared heritage and values as a people. More importantly, it rallies us around a common destiny of togetherness and prosperity.

The case for a united Africa has been stated over the decades, most times by people more gifted in these matters than I. But no one – in my humble opinion – captures its pertinence more than the author Thabiso Daniel Monkoe, who once said: “The reason why lions hunt successfully as a pride, is reason enough for Africans to unite.”  That means if pride were  the only reason we must unite, then we are duty-bound to do so.

Pan-Africanism and African unity and integration are all central to the thematic issues we will be discussing at this gathering. I dare to argue that an integrated and prosperous Africa is unattainable without first uniting its peoples and transcending the boundaries that have been carved for use by others. Yes, by boundaries, I mean those carved for us, and without us in Berlin in 1884.

We must realize, more than ever before, that the forces militating against our collective good are many, strong and unrelenting. Some are from outside. The consequences of the colonial and neo colonial agenda still trap Africa in dependency. Some are from within. We are yet to accept ourselves as brothers and sisters. The spate of xenophobia in countries like South Africa is counter-productive to the unity we seek. It is unimaginable that as we talk integration, thousands of my own countrymen and women are beaten and thrown out of their homes and workplaces almost every year in places like Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Being a “foreign African” has become an undesirable status in many African countries. Colleagues, sometimes we over blame the Berlin conference that partitioned Africa. Surely the physical boundaries of Africa were determined there in Berlin and there is nothing we can now do about that. The good news is that our minds were not partitioned there as well.

“Integration and economic prosperity” is not a goal that can be achieved without first overcoming these forces. It is not something that can be gotten through institutional and policy arrangements only. We must transcend big politics and begin to build in Africans a sense of belonging. The pangs of hunger, disease, natural calamities and deprivation are all too strong, and we cannot to these add disunity, the lack of solidarity and outright hate for each other. When Nigerian, a Zambian, a Zimbabwean, a Malawian is taken out of his home and mercilessly beaten in South Africa; when a Cameroonian or a Senegalese is taken and sold as a slave in Libya for less than $400, it is not foreign forces that are doing that. It is us!!

Ladies and gentlemen,

The welfare of the African, irrespective of age, sex or creed, should guide our actions. What are roads, bridges, power lines, large farms and an accumulation of wealth if they do not contribute to the collective good and instill a sense of being in the African citizen. May I take this opportunity, to express my personal gratitude and that of the civil society to the leadership of African Development Bank, for its proactive and timely action it took in assisting some countries of the southern African region that were hard hit by cyclones and floods.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am the first to admit that the work that needs to be done to achieve an integrated and prosperous Africa is enormous. Governments on their own will not succeed. That is why it is useful that all actors put their hands on the plough.

The African civil society is ready to play its role. More than ever before, it is capable of tackling most of the many challenges facing this continent. Over the last decades, the African Civil Society landscape has undergone tremendous transformation and is rich in experience and expertise. Use us. Use us well beyond consultative roles.

This partnership is bound to produce wins for both governmental and non-governmental organizations. Above all, it is bound to propel Africa forward and help us all attain the future we desire.

Let me again note that the African civil society is willing and capable of building an integrated and prosperous Africa. USE US.

Thanks for your kind attention.

 

 

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