It is AFRICA DAY on 25th May and since 2012, the African Union (AU) has been using this day to unite Africa with the following slogan: I AM AFRICAN – I AM THE AFRICA UNION
It is supposed to help African people to above all gain self-confidence in order for them to:
- take their destiny into their own hands
- see their connection to the African Union as a stronger bond between all African people
- be the driving force behind Africa’s successful development
- only use the AU as their official representation in Africa
To me this sounds rather ambitious. Since I do not live there anymore, however, I cannot fully comprehend as to how possible these plans of the AU are to achieve and if they are as important to the African people. I especially ask myself though what the children of Africa think of such brave statements.
So I thought I’d ask 4 former SOS-Children the following four questions:
- 1. What do think about the AU campaign?
- 2. Do you share the AU vision?
- 3. What are you doing to contribute to further the success of the African continent?
- 4. What does the African Union as the Pan-African body mean to you?
And here is what they had to say…
I firmly believe in the AU slogan as it represents the African dream which in my opinion starts from me having a dream of a better future for myself. And if I work twice as hard to accomplish this dream I will perpetually help my family, my village, my city, my county, my country and ultimately the continent “Africa” to develop. We cannot divide the individual from the Union; it is time for Africa to take control of its own destiny. For too long we have allowed exploiters to accomplish their objective which is to keep Africa on the sideline, to the point where it is continuously on the verge of war and confusion while bad people come to loot all of its natural resources.
This has to stop. Only if the African individual realizes his full potential and understands that his happiness depends on his active contribution, will it, in turn, lead to prosperity and help Africa become a healthier, a stronger, a more educated and a more informed continent.
This means – the African Union starts with me.
So yes, I feel strongly connected to the AU and its vision because the Union’s vision and mine are the same which is to be a productive and independent citizen of the Union. I think we need to do more to create ownership of the vision. By that I mean that we need to start impacting the minds of young people – the generation of doers – to think “What can I do for Africa”? Looking at the bigger picture will strengthen their dreams and will gradually foster the outcome we want which is to make Africa a better place.
I have been able to help Africa and have impacted others with my success which I’m very proud of. The education I gained from the west has enabled me to come back to Liberia and volunteer at AME University as a lecturer – passing on knowledge is invaluable to young students. I also work for my government as the focal point for budget support; I coordinate budget support from the World Bank, the European Union and the African development aid. I have been working on harmonizing these donors.
My goal is to ask donors to adapt the “country system” so that the people and the donors can appreciate and benefit from their partnerships.
For too long our donors have decided that the time for the African dream to flourish has not yet come…
I believe that the AU represents the African dream which should be the utmost priority for the every person of Africa. The AU is the arm which brings our people together for the betterment of the continent. And I’m certain that Africa is getting better…
To me, the slogan “I am African – I am the African Union” means that the ultimate unity of the African people lies in the individual’s effort to make it happen. Every decision a person makes will impact the vision of being a united Africa. For instance, if I were highly educated and decided to live and work for a country on another continent – that would be one piece that’s missing from a big jigsaw puzzle.
As someone with an African origin and a decent education, I do feel strongly connected to the AU and its vision which is why I went back home to offer my services based on the knowledge I have acquired so far. My hope is that my return will encourage others who are highly educated to return to their homes and be assets in their regions. I will also be supportive to those who want to bring about positive changes in their communities.
Africa is diverse. Each and every country has its own strengths and weaknesses and through cooperation, weaknesses can be eliminated. The vision of the AU organization promotes Pan-Africanism which stands for being cooperative to prosper, to come together and protect the sovereignty of each country and maintain solidarity.
I guess the slogan doesn‘t really resonate with me. I’m, of course, a proud African which is why I would like to assist people with disabilities, orphans and people who need the motivation to overcome their problems – “We have no limitations but we limit ourselves through our thoughts.”
It also isn’t really clear to me what the AU is trying to achieve…
It would certainly help if the AU had a closer relationship with its society. A lot of it seems to be theoretical and we are yet to see its effects play out on the ground. I did appreciate their efforts representing us at the EU summit though that was held in Belgium early this year. It gave the impression that they were working as a unit.
As to what I want for Africa? Peace, clean water, shelter, food, health, education. I need to play my part with the skills and knowledge I have and share it with my community. Engaging in different forums will also be vital to help in building Africa. I’ve already initiated a project on empowering the blind as well as people with different disabilities in Africa. Who would’ve thought a blind person could use a computer? Or sports for the blind…who would’ve thought that they could play cricket? I myself am blind and I’m able to use a computer. I also play cricket and feel it is part of every human being’s life style to be active and keep the human body healthy. A further troubling issue is of course HIV. It is a virus that is claiming many lives and when it comes to accessing information on how to protect oneself from it, blind people are being left out although being a part of the affected communities. I’m also advocating equal opportunities to access health, education empowerment etc.
So yes, I’m prepared to help build Africa so it can develop further. I’m determined to build Africa with the little that I have and I’m willing to make the impact on the ground via social media, radio, television etc.
The slogan was quite fitting to the continental organization that was about to celebrate its 50 years anniversary. For over 50 years the AU and its predecessor OAU have stood for that African dream of a united and prosperous continent in all its diversity and beauty. These are aspects of the organization that connects all Africans and values that we all as Africans aspire to.
While I have a strong affinity to its vision the African Union as its stands today is a bit far off from ordinary people like me. Its activities and actions are most of the time limited to few elites in the power corridors of the continent and the world. It is a sad reality that organizations outside the continent have more reach to ordinary Africans than the AU. All is not lost, however, as the AU has been making good progress in terms of engaging Africans. It is increasingly proactive on important African issues that affect most Africans i.e. peace and security. It is now more than any time in its existence involved in actively resolving African peace and security issues. There is also a growing civil society involvement in the affairs and activities of the AU. Hence, I am hopeful that the future is brighter as far as the organization and its connection to us the ordinary Africans is concerned.
Africa compared to the rest of the world, however, faces more challenges. The range and magnitude of these challenges are immense, so much so that they make it look hopeless. At the same time the continent is endowed with many great talents and resources to meet these immense tasks. My contribution while quite small in the larger picture will be my talent and resources. The hope is that my contribution will mean something when joined with others all over the continent who are doing amazing work and contributing to meeting and overcoming these challenges. I hope to fight for a better life for children and women of the continent as they are the bedrock of a stable and prospering society.
Africa is part of the family of many continents with their own culture, diversity, history and potentials. No one is an island and Africa must come together with the rest of the world to meet common challenges in economics, security, and social issues. The AU as a Pan-African body is the best representation of our continent. It must join the world to tackle global issues like climate change, poverty and many other issues. It must do so with professionalism and purpose.