Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Su2c9ja Celebrates Africa Day 2011 “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”

Today African countries celebrate Africa Day amid a litany of problems bedevilling the continent which range from poverty, disease, conflict, wars and repression of people.

Africans both in the continent and in the Diaspora will today put aside these challenges and commemorate the day whose theme is:

“Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. Several activities to mark the day have been organised at the headquarters of the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Those expected to spice up the day include the chairperson of the African Union (AU) and President of the Republic of Equatorial Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping and some African Heads of State and government, ministers and other high officials attending the Africa-India Summit which ends this morning.

A reception will be offered to all the participants by the AU in the Congo Hall and in the court-yard (outside the AU conference centre). Among the dishes to be served will be the national dishes from all regions of Africa.

In the course of the reception, two cakes prepared for the occasion will be cut by the AU chairperson at the Congo Hall and the deputy chairperson of the AUC, Erastus Mwencha, will cut the symbolic cake in the court-yard.

A cultural event will crown the colourful ceremony.
But amid the pomp Africa is burning. Across the continent wars are raging in Libya, parts of the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia.

Countries such as Egypt and Tunisia remain fragile after coming from anti-dictatorship protests which toppled strongmen Hosni Mubaraki and Beni Ali.

In Ivory Coast where another strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, was toppled by rebel forces who were helped by the French military and UN “peacekeepers”, the situation is still shaky amid reports it may be a herculean task for new leader Alassane Ouattara to unify Ivorians, who over the years are divided along ethnic and political lines.

Elsewhere in Africa, Sudan’s army has seized control of the disputed, oil-producing Abyei region, forcing thousands to flee and threatening to plunge the vast country into further troubles.

The Darfur region in the Sudan remains volatile. Chad, Burkina Faso and the Central Africa Republic remain fragile.

Relatively stable Rwanda is troubled by the delicate ethnic divide between the ruling Tutsi minority and the majority Hutus whose political leadership claim is being persecuted.

Rwanda is recovering from a genocide that claimed 800 000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. The genocide is blamed on the defeated Hutu-led government.

In the aftermath of the genocide, the government of Paul Kagame was hailed for its rebuilding of the country. But Kagame is now accused with becoming increasingly seen as authoritarian, intolerant of dissent and of silencing political opposition. Rwanda’s twin country, Burundi, also remains delicate.

A power-sharing deal in Burundi appears to be facing renewed threats from Hutu extremists while in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni’s grip on power is being challenged by an increasingly militant opposition.

The northern part of the country is still threatened by the presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which occasionally launches incursions into the countryside, maiming villagers and recruiting young boys to be soldiers.

Southern Africa, seen as the most stable region in Africa, seems to be catching the cold.

In Madagascar, the political stand-off remains unsolved and the regional bloc, Sadc, is mediating in the dispute between ousted president Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, who seized power with the help of the military.

In Swaziland, calls for the monarch to introduce political reforms are reaching a crescendo. The country’s restive civil servants have organised anti-government protests in Mbabane and other major cities and towns but were ruthlessly crushed by the police.

Zimbabwe, once a very promising country, finds itself in a very uncomfortable situation.

The country is going through unprecedented political and economic challenges.

The unity government formed after a disputed poll faces challenges which are subject to mediation led by a Sadc appointed facilitator, Jacob Zuma, South African president.

What exacerbates the continent’s political problems is that the AU appears to be like a toothless bulldog.

But its major challenges appear to be some Western powers which have shown contempt in dealing with the continental body.

Added to these political problems besetting the continent, there have been over 9 million refugees and internally displaced people from conflicts in Africa.

Hundreds and thousands of people have been slaughtered in numberous conflicts and civil wars.

Apart from these political problems, Africans are threatened by diseases such as Cancer,HIV, Aids and malaria. HIV,Cancer and Aids-related illnesses and deaths cause serious social and family disruption.

Cancer and Aids in Africa is said to be killing more people than conflicts. Hunger and natural disasters such as flooding also threatens Africans.

While African leaders dine and wine celebrating Africa Day, they should take time to reflect on problems affecting the continent and the legacies they dream of leaving behind.

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