The Words of the Kagawa Family

UPF Celebrates Pan-Africanism, Renaissance, and Africa's Rising on Africa Day 2013

Genie Kagawa
June 26, 2013
UPF Office of UN Relations

New York, USA -- Africa Day 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, which gave way for the establishment of the African Union. On May 25 of this year, the African Union held their 21st African Union Summit in Addis Ababa to mark this anniversary event. On June 26, a New York 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration for Africa Day was held in Manhattan, co-sponsored by the African Group and the African Union in partnership with the Universal Peace Federation and the United Nations African Ambassadors Spouses Group. The theme for this year's Africa Day was "Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance."

The celebration of Africa Day provides the opportunity to remember the great historical achievements of the founding fathers of the continental organization. Moreover, it presents a "forward-looking" platform regarding Africa's development, peace, and security. Different countries observe the day with various activities, such as panel discussions, speeches by pan-Africanists and political leaders, rallies, cultural entertainment, poetry, symposiums, and special university lectures.

Considering the recent focus of world leaders on Africa, and the renewed determination of the people of Africa for unity and development, celebration of Africa Day is of paramount importance. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon graced the gala celebration and addressed more than 500 distinguished guests, comprising UN Ambassadors and dignitaries, African Union officials, and other high level officials of the diaspora. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended African countries for their continuous progress over the past 50 years while stressing that many challenges remain in the continent and accelerated action is needed to tackle them. He stated: "Several African countries are among the world's fastest growing economies, defying the global downturn. Opportunity beckons for ever greater numbers of people, and ever more international investors are taking notice…..Africans are writing a new narrative in their history."

The program began with a video presentation of the African Union since its historical beginnings. Representative of the Chair of the African Union, H.E. Amb. Tekeda Alemu, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United Nations, delivered remarks, recounting the important historical events in African Union's history, and the importance of infusing constructive energy to accelerate a forward-looking agenda for Pan-Africanism and renaissance in the 21st century.

H.E. Ambassador Téte António, Permanent Observer of the Mission of the African Union to the United Nations, delivered the message of H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Kiamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, giving tribute and praise to memories of the African heroes and founders who sacrificed for the vision of a united, integrated, and prosperous Africa. He quoted the illustrious former President from Ghana, H.E. Kwame Nkruma, stating that: "Africa, united, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind."

In his remarks, Mr. Taj Hamad, Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation, stressed three areas of special importance to the theme of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance: education of heart, the strengthening of marriage and family, and interfaith dialogue and cooperation. The outburst of "intellectual and artistic creativity" as well as a spiritual awakening are "both necessary and equal parts of an African Renaissance."

Madam Tihib Marie Claire Kogda-Somda, President of the United Nations African Ambassadors Spouses Group, and wife of the Ambassador of Burkina Faso to the United Nations, gave tribute to the pioneers of the Organization of African Unity, who laid the foundation for liberation and unity, and quoting a poetic singer, called on African leaders to working together to make the continent of Africa a "haven of peace" and an "island of prosperity" for the present and future generations. The spouses group sponsored the evening's African culinary buffet of more than 60 exquisite dishes, representing the various regions of Africa.

After a cake-cutting ceremony with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and photo taking, there were dynamic cultural performances from the five African regions: Adjaratou Tapani Demba, a Mali traditional singer representing the Western Region; Anna Mwalagho, the "Queen" of spoken Afro beat from Kenya, representing the Eastern Region; the Jomion Group, a Beninese musical group from the Western Region; Kaissa, with a vocal presentation from Cameroon, representing the Central Region; Khadidja Guenil, singing Andalus music from Algeria, representing the Northern Region; and the Mbazi brothers's band from Angola, representing the Southern Region of Africa.

The evening had all elements of solemnity and historical importance, as well as an exceptional banquet of sumptuous dishes, vibrant entertainment, and a night filled with enthusiastic dancing to energetic African music. 

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