Clad in beautiful and colourful traditional attire from across the continent, Members of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) commemorated a vibrant Africa Day and 60th Anniversary of the African Union yesterday, 25 May 2023 during the Second Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament at its headquarters in Midrand, South Africa. The call was for a re-ignited Pan-African spirit and cultural revolution that will raise the consciousness of and unite all Africans on the continent and in the diaspora with a sense of solidarity that is rooted in a shared painful history. Massa Gali Harou, Acting Clerk of the PAP in opening the celebrations underlined one aspect; Our Africa, our Future. Harou said the stance of Africa today is one that speaks with one voice and reminded the gathering that the fight was against apartheid, racism and colonialism towards prosperity, freedom and self-determination.
On the 25th of May 1963, 32 newly independent countries in Africa decided to come together and build a future for Africa. It was a watershed moment not only for Africa but for the world, Africa was at long last rising together and talking about the future of its own people amongst each other. Revolutionary leaders Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Samora Machel of Mozambique, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Agostinho Neto of Angola and to much applause, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, said to be the last living of the revolutionary freedom fighters, were amongst others mentioned as key players in the liberation of Africa.
The commemoration of the day was focused on rededicating all efforts towards the betterment of an integrated Africa that controls its own destiny, enjoying enhanced cooperation and improved quality of life, eradicating imperialism, igniting pride and hope, experiencing prosperity and freedom whilst enjoying peace and security. Delivering the keynote address, Professor Patrick L. O Lumumba of Kenya stressed that the Pan-African Spirit must never die. Lumumba also touched on the effectiveness of the PAP, stating that no decision by the continental legislative body is binding, thus rendering it ineffective with limited power. He called on MPS to lobby their respective governments to give more power to the PAP in order for the body to hold governments to account. “PAP has performed poorly, it is not doing what the forefathers thought it would do. They need teeth of steel”, said Lumumba. The renowned Pan-Africanist also implored on the Parliament to be at the forefront of conflict resolution on the continent, citing the on-going fighting in South Sudan and the occupation of Western-Sahara.
Several speakers also touched on the lack of sufficient information amongst the masses about the Parliament. The sentiments of several contributions from the floor highlighted the need for MPS to go back and share information on the work they do in their countries and collectively here in South Africa through several activations. Other issues raised was the role of women in ending conflict on the continent pre and post independent Africa, the negative effects of gender based violence on African societies and the high maternal and infant mortality rate.
The day was observed as a day of celebrations, recognizing that Africa is a continent of great potential, beauty, contrast, rich culture and traditions as well as a shared painful history. Notwithstanding the abundant splendor of the continent and its people, speaker after speaker used the opportunity to highlight challenges, including the food security, conflict and terrorism on the continent. It was however noted that over the years, the continent has seen an increase in free and fair elections, democratic governments and peaceful transition of power with rule of law becoming more prevalent.