Picture: Courtney Africa/ANA

Cape Town - “I'm proud that today we can celebrate the gains of our struggle for liberation from Cape to Cairo. I share the view of Akwasi Aidoo of Senegal when he said: ‘Africa Day is like no other day, because it symbolises in a very practical way our collective spirit and search for unity and dignity'.”

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Reginah Mhaule stated this on Thursday during the debate in the National Assembly on “Africa Day: The year of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, a Better Africa and a Better World”.

A number of events are lined up to celebrate Africa Day today.

“As we celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, it is imperative that we remember that our own destiny and future can never be divorced from that of the continent.

"From Nkwame Nkruma in Ghana to our very own son of the soil, Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, one can only marvel at the depth of wisdom and patriotism that these thought leaders expressed in their call for African renaissance in calling for unity in diversity, peace and tolerance,” said Mhaule.

“As you may be aware, this year marks 30 years since the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a milestone in quest to end the tyranny of colonialism and apartheid.”

Mhaule’s comments came hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered an address at the African Renaissance Conference at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Thursday.

Ramaphosa said representations of African civilisation were being supplemented by advanced infrastructure, industrial parks, scientific laboratories and corporate tower blocks that mark the continent’s urban landscapes.

“The magnificent pyramids of Egypt, the sculptures of the ancient kingdoms of Ghana and Mali and Benin, the temples of Ethiopia, and the rock paintings of the Kgalagadi all speak volumes about Africa’s innovation and contribution to human development. 

"Our task is to create the conditions for this new generation to grow and thrive and to build a continent of hope and progress.

“We must constantly remind them of the words of Madiba, who said: ‘Sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Let your greatness blossom',” Ramaphosa said.

Africa Day has been celebrated since the formation of the African Union (AU) in 1963.

Africa Day puts the continent’s progress under the spotlight while reflecting on the common challenges the continent faces in a global environment.

The Department of Basic Education is celebrating Africa Day with a special focus on literacy and reading. In Pretoria, a reading ambassador will engage pupils on the importance of reading in building a better Africa and a better world.

“Storytellers from Freedom Park narrate a historical perspective on the lives of Mandela and Sisulu as South Africans mark their centenaries.

“Some of the presenters will include the representatives from the Sisulu and Mandela families, including remarks by (Basic Education Minister Angie) Motshekga on the significant role played by the late president Mandela and Sisulu,” the department said.

UN secretary-general António Guterres has urged all nations to support a peaceful, prosperous Africa. “What is good for Africa is good for the world,” he said.

“Africa is increasingly driving its own future. The guiding vision for Africa’s development is the AU’s Agenda 2063.

“Fully complementary to the UN’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Agenda 2063 provides a foundation for resilience and social and economic progress for the entire continent.

“The UN is fully committed to supporting Africa’s efforts. To that end, the two organisations have in the past year signed frameworks on peace and security and on the coherent implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 agenda.”

The AU will host an event commemorating Africa Day at its headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The event will feature a high-level debate on the AU theme of the year, “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”, and an African Bazaar.

Tomorrow, hundreds of youth and members of civil society will attempt to raise awareness for the need to achieve a conflict-free Africa through a peace walk, hosted by the International Peace Youth Group at the Albert Luthuli Plaza in the Cape Town CBD at 12pm.

The peace walk will form part of a global movement to promote a culture of peace through the implementation of Article 10 of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War.

Cape Times