Every year in the month of May, the people of our continent mark Africa Month. This is because it was on the 25th of May in 1963 in Ethiopia that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was formed; with a primary mission of promoting African unity and solidarity. We in South Africa still carry with us fond memories of the role the OAU, now the African Union, played in supporting our struggle for liberation. We remain forever indebted to those African leaders who cherished the ideal of and were prepared to fight for an Africa free of all forms of colonialism.

During Africa Month, Africans take time to reflect on the many struggles waged on our continent for us to gain our independence, defend our sovereignty and our territorial integrity. We remember and draw courage from those who fought gallantly for the liberation of our continent from the yolk of colonialism and apartheid. We also pay tribute to those who continue to work towards Africa’s unity, prosperity and integration. 

May is also a month in which we rekindle the inner pride we have as the children of this great continent, of Africa, which has made a significant contribution in the origins, the evolution and development of humankind; a continent that gave the world humanity; and a continent that has contributed in no small measure to human civilization.

The discovery of Homo Naledi at the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site has once again shed some light on the existence of early forms of human life on our continent. Most importantly the discovery has cemented our continent’s unique role in humanity’s evolution.

However, ours is not only a continent of the past; it is the continent of the future. The coming into operation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area places our continent firmly on a path towards a brighter, inclusive and more prosperous future. It is also a major step in ensuring that as Africans we take our rightful place as a major trade, economic and investment bloc in the world economy. No longer will the destiny of our continent be determined in faraway lands, outside our continent. Finally, we have taken our destiny into our own hands.

It is in this spirit that we are encouraged by the successful conclusion, in the month of May, of the Summit on the Financing of African Economies hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and attended by among others our own President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Summit focused on ways of strengthening funding for Africa’s development, the treatment of debt, infrastructure development as well as reforms to facilitate private sector expansion on our continent. We see the Summit as part of ongoing effort to ensure an inclusive economic recovery in Africa post the COVID-19 crisis.

Also of significance is that leaders at the Summit recommitted themselves to act together and more purposefully in the fight against the great divergence occurring within and between African countries. The message from African leaders is clear: no one should be left behind as our continent continues to rise.

The summit further recognized the role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good. Accordingly, leaders committed themselves to ensure and accelerate equitable access in Africa to safe and affordable vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. Once again no one must be left behind in the global effort to roll out COVID-19 vaccines.

It was Pixkely Seme who said the following: “The African already recognizes his anomalous position and desires a change. The brighter day is rising upon Africa. Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities. Her Congo and her Gambia whitened with commerce, her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business, and all her sons employed in advancing the victories of peace-greater and more abiding than the spoils of war. Yes, the regeneration of Africa belongs to this new and powerful period!”

These words, uttered more than a century ago, remain true up to this day. May they continue to inspire our leaders as they navigate the many challenges of our time.



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