African Union Chair calls for unity as continent marks 57th Africa Day amid COVID-19

The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has called for unity in Africa as the continent marks the 57th Africa Day amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

The Organization of the African Unity (OAU) was founded on Saturday, May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before it was transformed into the African Union (AU) on July 9, 2002, in Durban, South Africa. The day, may 25, is marked as Africa Day every year.

“On this day 57 years ago, the Organization of African Unity was born. From the beginning it was dedicated to the idea that only through unity could Africa safeguard its independence and unlock its potential,” Mr. Ramaphosa said in a remarks to Africans on Monday.

“Today we pay tribute to our forebears the founders of the OAU whose dream of greater African integration and unity has endured. We also honor the legions of revolutionary leaders of Africa who took up the mantle of pan- Africanism and who fought for the economic and political integration of Africa,” he said.

“They have left a formidable legacy for our continent and all its peoples. They continue to inspire us and the generations that will come after us. It was the mission of the founders of the OAU to liberate the continent from the clutches of colonial oppression, to restore Africa’s fortunes and to restore the dignity of every African man, woman and child.

“We are reminded of the difficulties they had to overcome and the resistance they encountered from foreign powers that had much to gain from exploiting divisions on the continent.

“Yet they taught us the power of perseverance and sacrifice, of dedication to an ideal, and that an Africa united can overcome even the greatest of challenges,” he added.

Mr. Ramaphosa noted that this year is being marked amid COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that continues to wreak havoc around the world.

“We mark this Africa Day in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which has swept across the world and left no part of our continent untouched.

“Thus far almost 96 000 people have been infected with almost 3 000 having lost their lives. This COVID 19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on our ability to meet the aspiration of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of a peaceful, united and prosperous continent.

“The virus has exposed the deep inequalities that continue to exist on our continent and across the world. It has shown how far we are from realizing our developmental goals and our responsibilities to the citizens of our continent. But at the same time, this global crisis should enable a new Africa to come to the fore.

“It should be an Africa of heroic acts of solidarity, an Africa of cross-border collaboration and sharing of knowledge and resources, an Africa that is united by a common goal. The challenge of this pandemic has shown how Africa is able to work together to solve its own problems.

“Day by day, across our continent, we are seeing the unity that is our strength being put to the service of saving lives and supporting the vulnerable. We salute the latter-day standard-bearers of pan-African unity: the health care workers and medical personnel, the scientists and epidemiologists.

“We salute the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention for leading our continent’s response to the pandemic. We also pay tribute to the community workers and NGOs, and the leaders of government and business who have lent their full support to Africa’s coronavirus response,” he said.

The occasion is being celebrated virtually with concerts and different events around the world.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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