By Byron Mutingwende
In the midst of challenges from the pressures of global finance capital and lack of priority, Africans were urged to embrace Pan-Africanism to foster unity and development.
In a speech read on his behalf at the Harare Polytechnic on the occasion to celebrate Africa Day, Emmanuel Chenda, the Ambassador of Zambia to Zimbabwe said there was need to collectively reflect on centuries of toil for the good life on the continent.
“It is time to improve and rebrand the Pan-African personality through using Pan-Africanism as a possible framework for Pan-continental unity and development. It is through celebrating and remembering the heroic fits of our founding fathers that we can continue to inspire several generations of Africans.
“Through such platforms we can correct the misrepresentation of the African state viewed as rogue, predatory, failed and more. Yes, the day is confirmation that there is hope for Africa as we cherish the dreams of a brighter day,” Chenda said.
The 25th of May is the day that Africans reminisce and take stock of where they have been and where they need to be in the not so distant future. Africa Day can be traced back to 15th April 1958 when the first conference of independent African states brought the founding fathers of the African liberation movements together.
Leaders were drawn from Liberia (William Tolbert), Ethiopia (Haile Selassie), Ghana (Kwame Nkrumah), Sudan (Ismail Al-Azhari) and other states. Together the leaders used that day to denounce colonialism and demand independence.
“I am delighted to be part of this magnificent day that brings together Africans to re-think and recalibrate the future of Africa. It is befitting that you chose us to celebrate and enjoy the Pan-African ambience with you, as Zambia and Zimbabwe share a common history dating back to pre-history, pre-colonial, independence and post independence experiences,” Chenda said.
Renowned Poet, Tinashe Muchuri who recited a poem at the event said Africa Day celebrates the continent’s culture, diversity and sovereignty. Some scintillating performances came from a traditional cultural ensemble from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Hodzeko Ensemble from Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey As Turkey in marking the annual Africa Day, took the opportunity to celebrate Africa’s achievements and rejoice his country’s developing partnership with the continent.
“Africa’s ascendancy makes all Turks proud and motivates us to engage in closer ties and cooperation. Political institutions around Africa are evolving even as we are witnessing the emergence of a strong middle class in many African countries. The continent has the aspiration to take strides across all Sustainable Development Goals. Africa’s aspirations include not only eliminating absolute poverty, but also reducing inequality, offering a wealth of valuable education opportunities to all and reinforcing good governance as the norm. Africa operates increasingly as a cohesive unit. The Continental Free Trade Area Agreement has been a critical milestone that will shape the future of Africa,” Cavusoglu said.
He said Turkey’s engagement is based on building lasting relationships by establishing deep-rooted cooperation with its African counterparts in a manner that is sustainable and mutually productive. In turn, Africa considers Turkey as a vigorous partner in the continent’s progress towards comprehensive and sustainable development and its consequent influence in global affairs.
“Our interest to Africa is concretised by intensified political contacts at the highest level. President Erdoğan paid official visits to 26 African countries since his Prime Ministry term. These visits opened new venues of cooperation. The multitude of Agreements signed show that Turkey is committed to opening new areas of collaboration with African countries.”
Turkey’s outreach towards Africa has been built on visible, tangible and mutually beneficial foundations. Turkey is now represented in the continent with 41 Embassies with the latest opening of embassies in Sierra Leone and the Equatorial Guinea.
“We will raise this number to 50 in medium term with the ultimate target of being represented in every African country. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of our strategic partnership with the African Union. Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting high-level AU officials and African Foreign Ministers in Istanbul as part of a Ministerial Conference that reviewed our institutional cooperation. We set new targets for a more productive relationship. As a first step, we will organize the Second Turkey-Africa Business Forum this October in Istanbul. Next year we will also hold the Third Turkey- Africa Summit. We attach great importance to this Summit and will work to guarantee its success, the Foreign Minister of Turkey added.
Turkish trade with the African Continent now exceeds 20 billion US dollars. This represents nearly a fivefold increase compared to 2003. It also shows that both Africa and Turkey are benefiting from an equitable trade relationship.
Turkey also recognises the important role played by the Regional Economic Communities in the future of Africa. In that sense, last February it organised the first Turkey-ECOWAS Economic and Business Forum with the aim of deepening the economic partnership between Turkey and ECOWAS members.
Turkish Airlines (THY) continues to extend its presence on the continent by adding new destinations to its flight network. THY is currently flying to 52 destinations in 34 countries in Africa. The latest addition to THY’s network was Freetown in Sierra Leone. Flights to the Comoros Islands will also be starting this June.
Turkey is actively contributing to peace and security on the Continent. It is also also assisting efforts to combat terrorism in the Sahel. At the recent Brussels Conference, Turkey pledged 5 million US dollars to support the regional G5 Sahel security force.
Humanitarian and development partnerships have been strong elements of Turkey’s overall outreach to the continent. Many Ministries, Agencies and NGO’s in Turkey take part in this combined effort.
“Our benchmark for success is responding to meeting local needs in a speedy manner. From 2004 until 2016, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TICA) spent 1.43 billion US dollars to support sustainable development efforts in the continent.
“I would like to underline again that we highly appreciate that many African countries have taken swift action against various organizations affiliated with the Fetullah Gulenist Terror Organization, which attempted a bloody coup in Turkey.”
The Maarif Foundation, a Turkish government run agency, has begun to operate schools in Africa. Turkey’s goal is to provide solid support to the efforts of the African governments to provide affordable and quality education all over the continent.
The Foreign Minister added that providing higher education opportunities to qualified African students in Turkey through scholarships was also a promising leg of its cooperation. Each year over 1.000, students from Africa go to Turkey to receive their higher education through Turkish Government Scholarship programmes.
“Their presence is welcome and we will to continue to be a center of excellence for African students. Our approach to Africa is based on transparent, long-termed and strategic partnership. We are confident that this partnership promises a bright future to Turkey and to our partners in Africa.
“As I mark the Africa Day with joy, I underline Turkey’s commitment to our partnership with Africa based on the principles of equality, partnership, solidarity, sustainability and mutual respect,” Cavusoglu added.