Fifty years of African unity celebrated in Geneva
16 October 2013
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma inaugurated celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. 2013 is being called the Year of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance and Heads of State and Government in Africa are remembering the achievements of the OAU and its successor the African Union. Dr Dlamini-Zuma spoke about the importance of everyone participating in the year-long celebrations both in Africa and as part of the African diaspora. She said the event in Geneva was a moment to reflect on the past and even more importantly on the future.
The high-level participants of the day-long forum included ministers from Africa, representatives of international organizations and business leaders. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé moderated a high-level panel on development in Africa. Participants spoke of the challenges the continent faces which range from food security to unemployment to conflict and they pointed to a need for innovation and a new paradigm. International singer and activist Angélique Kidjo also participated in the panel and spoke about the rights of African women.
Africa today is rising from being a scar on the conscience of the world as we were once called to a continent which is home to 6 of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies and one which is making steady progress with a sense of common destiny and priorities.
It is a moment to reflect on what we have achieved and what we need to do together to build a more inclusive society. Thirty years ago, nobody thought we could make a breakthrough on HIV. We have moved from despair to hope. In sub-Saharan Africa new HIV infections have declined by 38% since 2001.
African women are the backbone of Africa. Girls must be allowed to dream, to be educated and to choose their own destiny.