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Integration provides the way out

May 26, 2010, 12:11 PM

Every year, African and friends of Africa observe 25 May as Africa Day. This is day to "mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation." The theme chosen by the African Union for 2010 is "Building and Sustaining Peace through Sports" to mark this year's commemoration. Africa Day comes a few weeks to the kick off of the 19th edition of the football World Cup, which Africa is hosting for the first time in history.

For the AU's Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the choice of this theme gives full meaning to the event, as it highlights our resolve to make all possible efforts in order to fulfil the vision of Africa towards peaceful co-existence, integration, prosperity and being proactive on the global scene. It also echoes the decision taken in Tripoli, Libya, in August 2009, by African heads of state and government, to proclaim 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security in Africa.

It further marks a strong and symbolic moment in the history of our continent, as it has brought to the limelight the power of sports, and its contribution to peace and social cohesion.

Without doubt, the idea of unifying the continent politically, economically and socially by bringing it together culturally is one of the most important dreams which occupied the imagination of Africans for many generations.

However, in some parts of the continent, boundary disputes have served to bitterly divide otherwise very friendly nations, sometimes leading nations to war.

Africa's natural wealth and capacities in other areas would make it the first or second power in the globe. Indeed, the raw materials and other resources on the continent should enable Africans to establish a giant federal economy capable of competing with the largest economies of the world.

Africa's massive economic potential, when properly utilised, could make Africans a rich people, depending on their natural land resources, and without the need for external aid.

Thus Africa today is devoting all its energies and accelerating all its efforts for a bright and shining future through the umbrella of the great African Union.

Let us work together for a united Africa capable of creating its own destiny, and talking with one resounding voice that will make the whole world listen.

The establishment of a federal government will shift Africans from the union position, to a group of states whose interests coincide and melt into one giant entity.

Africa needs to widen its steps, and complete the construction of its union government project, for we are in an era when events develop at a fast pace.

The Africa of today is not the Africa of the past. It is not the Dark continent or the exploited continent as portrayed by others. Africa today is shining and radiating with brightness. It is a solid and strong continent whose people are the mainstay of its power and wealth.

Therefore, to a large extent, the issue of integrating the continent must be taken seriously, as unity is strength.

It was given serious thought by the founding fathers of the African liberation movement such as Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kenneth Kaunda, Patrice Lumumba and of recent, the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

We urge that, as Africans, we also stop killing each other and bring to end all ongoing wars on the continent for the sake of our peoples.

The 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa that sealed the reconciliation in the Rainbow Nation, which hitherto had been torn by decades of apartheid, is worthy of remembrance.

Peace is not just simply the absence of war; peace is also synonymous with development. Our Continent has enormous untapped potential, underscoring the need to promote values of solidarity to guarantee it a better future.

With hard work and dedication the efforts to concretise the dream of an independent, united, prosperous and peaceful Africa nurtured by the Founding Fathers will bear fruit.

Let us remain ambitious and highly performing champions, so that together we can ensure the future and peace of our continent.

"One of the prices that we pay for integration was the disintegration of the black community"

Ed Smith