Johannesburg - Former President Nelson Mandela’s grandson Chief Mandla Mandela took time to celebrate Africa Day on Friday, saying the occasion ought to remind all Africans the historic struggle for the establishment of a united and integrated continent.
“As Africans, we hold it in our own hands to fulfil the destiny and potential of this continent to be truly great by eradicating poverty, under-development and all the remnants of our colonial past. Then perhaps we can once again value the role that our ancestors, traditional leaders and all our people played in the resistance to colonialism and as a rallying point for the liberation struggles on the continent,” he said.
Touching on the centenary of the former statesman, Mandela said South Africans had to recommit themselves to the vision Rolihlahla Mandela attributed during his first address to the country’s Parliament on May 24, 1994, which stated: “Tomorrow, on Africa Day, the dream of Ingrid Jonker will come to fruition. The child grown to a man will trek through all Africa. The child grown to a man will journey over the whole world - without a pass!”
Africa has faced its fair share of challenges and experts believe there is a long way to go before the countries and its people are able to unify for economic and cultural purposes.
Progress to making this a reality has however been made.
In March this year, 44 out of 55 leaders who form part of the African Union member states signed a free trade agreement, the largest since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation. It is hoped the agreement will expand the continent's economy and perhaps lead it to thrive.
Meanwhile, Mandela pointed out that the negative effects of colonialism still existed saying, as a result, they have “decimated traditional values and governance structures” and have led to “a widespread and endemic poverty characterized by low skills levels and lack of access to capital.”
“This is the daily grind for many if not most of the continent’s people. The process of decolonization of Africa is yet incomplete as the last colony Western Sahara awaits the implementation of UN Resolutions on self-determination and upholding the human rights of the Sahrawi people. This process is being held captive by an intransigent Morocco that has seen many Sahrawi’s displaced in a diaspora, not unlike the plight of the Palestinians. Many Sahrawis are incarcerated in the occupied territories and horrid reports of torture and abuse abound.”
Mandela also blasted what he described as the Apartheid Israel regime which he said continues to play a role in supporting Morocco as it has done since the 1980’s supplying military hardware, training and intelligence. “We must as a continent take full responsibility to bring an end to this last illegal occupation of a country on African soil-the sovereign state of Western Sahara. As a continent, we must also speak as one voice in condemning the brutal Apartheid Israel killing machine that has butchered innocent men, women and children over the past few weeks for no crime other than a peaceful protest demanding their right of return to the land of their birth.”
Mandela further said: “On this Africa Day we ask the United Nations and the world what is the crime of these six million Palestinians that they should be denied to return to their homes. Our own bitter, painful and difficult struggle for liberation must drive us as a formidable force for international solidarity and as post-liberation advocates of human rights. South Africans must always remain vigilant of this historic task and celebrate Africa Day as the first time our new flag was hoisted in a historic ceremony at the OAU Headquarters in Addis Ababa in 1994.”
In doing so, he said: ”Perhaps then we will see the value of Madiba’s prophetic words on the eve of Africa Day 1994 when he said ‘The time will come when our nation will honour the memory of all the sons, the daughters, the mothers, the fathers, the youth and the children who, by their thoughts and deeds, gave us the right to assert with pride that we are South Africans, that we are Africans and that we are citizens of the world.”