24 May 2012
Africans must unite in order to build a solid foundation for reviving the African family across the world – a move that will give impetus to the renaissance of the continent.
The call was made at the opening of the African Diaspora Ministerial Meeting held ahead of Friday’s Global Diaspora Summit in Sandton.
The ministerial meeting, hosted at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s headquarters in Pretoria, paves the way for the Sandton summit to be attended by, among others, current and former heads of state.
The common thread amongst speakers was a vision of a united and strong Africa based on partnerships between governments and all segments of society in order to shore up cohesion and solidarity amongst countries on continent and the diaspora.
The opening of the ministerial meeting recognised the need to build on sustainable partnerships between the African continent and the African diaspora through dialogue and effective collaboration with governments and peoples of different regions of the world.
Building a sold foundation
Speaking at the opening session, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the outcomes of the summit must contribute towards building a solid foundation for reviving our global African family.
She affirmed the need to promote South-South cooperation as a framework for enhancing mutual development as well as Pan African Solidarity.
Nkoana-Mashabane said a united Africa and Diaspora would lead the continent in the right direction towards independence, economic emancipation, eradication of poverty and advancement of Africa.
She urged the summit to pick up the baton relayed from the days of Pan African conferences premised on ridding the continent of all its challenges; and help create a better life for Africans in the diaspora.
“These struggles on the continent and the diaspora are far from over. The challenges of neo-colonialism are still before us. Racism is another reality that continues to cause pain, suffering and humiliation to its victims.
“Many people on this continent still live in fear because of the absence of peace and security in their countries. Disease, hunger and ignorance remain an obstacle to our achievement of a better life for our people,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.
A message of hope
Erieka Bennett, Ghana’s Head of Mission at the Diaspora African Forum, said the summit was an opportunity for African leaders to give the diaspora a message of hope that the continent will never be the same, and that unity in diversity was a tenable ideal.
Also addressing the summit, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping, lauded the efforts thus far to support Africa and the African diaspora.
He used his message to outline the aim of the summit and the work that had been done from ministerial and technical experts’ meetings that led to the draft declaration, programme of action and implementation strategy, which will be considered at Friday’s summit.
Ping said Friday’s consolidated outcome document would “serve as a basic law guiding the programme and its effective implementation”.
Among others, the draft declaration mentions the African Diaspora Legacy Projects. These include the creation of a database of professional skills in the African diaspora, which will tap into the expertise which have been lost in the brain drain.
Others include the African diaspora Fund, whereby Africans abroad will be able to invest in African development, among others.
These projects will be discussed and finalised at Friday’s summit, which will be attended by over 60 representatives.
The summit will discuss how best to harness the skills and energies within the continent and abroad for socio-economic development of Africa and boost synergies, as well as facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship through sustainable partnerships within the continent and the diaspora.
To be held under the theme, “Towards the Realisation of a United and Prosperous Africa and its Diaspora”, the summit will also consider the possible inclusion of the diaspora as a sixth region of the AU and endorse an AU Diaspora Volunteer Programme, which would associate the diaspora directly with the development efforts on the continent.
The AU defines the diaspora as “peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union”.