Each year, starting from 2001, Africa celebrates the creation of African Union which falls on 9th September. The African Union Southern African Regional Office (AU-SARO) celebrated this special Day on 25 to 26 September under the theme “Promotion of Pan-Africanism in Southern Africa through Mandela Centenary” focusing on how to fight against corruption learning from the life and leadership of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Silsulu. This year being the centenary for Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, the African Union Southern Africa Regional Office (AU-SARO) and the South Africa High Commission in Malawi organised the 2018 African Union Day celebrations jointly cantering on the legacy of Nelson Mandela and Pan-Africanism.
The guest of honour was former African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma who is also the Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. She addressed 400 students at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) during the Student Debate of Pan-Africanism alongside Malawi’s Minister of Land, Planning and Urban Development, Hon. Anna Kachikho.
Dr. Zuma encouraged the Youth to embrace the idea of Pan-Africanism. According to her, the youth of today must emulate the life of Madiba and Mama Sisulu. Having been a qualified lawyer, Mandela could have chosen a life of relative selfish comfort, but he chose the life of serving his people. The Youth must also have the same mentality of bringing change in the society with knowledge and strength they have so as to promote different dimensions of Development in Africa. Dr. Zuma also highlighted the zeal of African Union in promoting the welfare of the youth. The AGENDA 2063 has put in place ideas that will impart skills in the youth in the areas of human endeavour, especially in the STEM areas, that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The youth of today are also called upon to innovate, not for the sake of innovation, but in order to change the material conditions confronted by African people so that they can free themselves from the yokes of poverty and underdevelopment. Part of that innovation ought to also impact on areas that are unlikely to be impacted on by the fourth industrial revolution this includes the area of creativity. Whereas artificial intelligence exists, it requires the creative inputs of humans. Young men and women are therefore called upon to innovate and be creative, over and above the promotion of creative industries in the arts, culture and heritage sector.
The celebrations ended with a Dinner Debate that took place at the Sunbird Capital Hotel on 26 September. 250 guests attended the Dinner which included; senior government officials, CEOs from the private sectors, CSO leaders, Youth Groups and Political party Leaders. The Speaker at this event were the guest of honour, Dr. Nkosazana Zuma, Mrs Esela Gondwe Munthali from the University of Malawi and Mrs Martha Chizuma from the Malawi Ombudsman. Dr. Zuma presented on the role of the Pan-Africanism in the fight against Corruption through Mandela. According to her, African countries should be paying more attention to winning the fight against corruption, as it is the AU’s theme for this year. Zuma also highlighted that African countries must not be blind to the fact that the scourge of corruption is not exclusive to the public sector but various reports, including on illicit financial flows, have shown that the private sector and some donor sectors are involved. It is thus necessary to fight corruption and adopt a good leadership path just like Nelson Mandela did. Mrs Munthali on the hand, made a presentation on whether Pan-Africanism makes sense in the modern Africa. She argued that some selfish acts like regionalism, genocide and homophobia keeps tearing Africa apart. The modern Africa should borrow a leaf from the Hellenic Greek Era in which the term “Pan-Hellenism” meant that all Greeks were one which enables them to conquer more lands and even those Greeks in diaspora formed smaller Greek societies. Mrs Martha Chizuma made a presentation on Southern Africa Region and Pan-Africanism in which she underscore the influence of the union of African states in the Southern part of Africa.
The African Union Regional Delegate to SADC and COMESA, Dr. Leopold Auguste Ngomo also made a presentation on how Mandela and Sisulu have helped in the development of the Southern part of the continent. According to Dr. Ngomo, Africa needs such people who are committed to their societies wholeheartedly.
Both events were attended by people from all works of life who also contributed a lot during the discussion time on the issues that were being presented and raised as well.