BUJUMBURA May 28th (ABP) – African leaders have called on Africans to take into account their rich history, which they say paves the way for the continent’s socio-cultural, economic and political development. It was last week when United Bank for Africa (UBA) held a debate on the activities marking the 2019 edition of the celebration of World Africa Day.
Among the strong voices of Africa that attended the ceremonies are, Tony Elumelu, Chairman of the United Bank Group for Africa (UBA), Nobel Prize Laureate Wole Soyinka, Emeritus Professor and leader of Sahelian history, Djibril Tamsir Niane, Ghanaian politician Samia Nkrumah and famous female musician Femi Kuti. They took the floor during the first UBA Debate on Africa, a symposium organized by United Bank for Africa (UBA) at the UBA HOUSE, in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of this year’s celebration of World Africa Day. The theme of the panel was “The History of Africa Redefined: Our Past, a Door to the Future”. “UBA understands the past – in that Africa, as a continent, has always been united by the struggle for identity. UBA is a symbol for Africa’s development, for the economic empowerment of our people, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as large corporations. Thus, identifying with Africa and World Africa Day is synonymous with who we are as a bank. This day offers us the opportunity to remind ourselves, the world and even Africa, that we must make Africa the continent of our dreams,” Mr. Elumelu said, at the opening of the debate. “It was important for Africans to remember history because it would allow them to prepare for the future. Our past is a real tool for shaping the continent’s development, renaissance and economic growth,” he added.
Expressing with conviction his views on the issue, Professor Wole Soyinka, who strongly emphasized the UBA initiative to open the debate on those topical issues, lamented the growing erosion of history in the curriculum of African schools , adding, moreover, that ignorance and poor knowledge of our past hinder the development of the continent’s children. “How can we deal with modern phenomena if we do not know the past? He wonders. We should never forget the importance of history because it is not just an academic exercise,” he insisted.
Strengthening Soyinka’s position, Professor Niane said it is important to remember the rich history of Africa, because there are no people without history. “Africans have done a lot of work and we must be happy about it. It is necessary to continue the discussion on African unity. Policies have been formulated and our democracy can only become stronger. Peace will reign and Africa will unite. Economic transformation is also important, but it’s not the only thing we should focus on,” he said.
Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, who praised UBA for prioritizing African entrepreneurship, called for a new attempt at African unity which she said must be a collective effort of the peoples. “As we work individually in our small countries, it will not be easy to achieve more if we work together. Complete unification can only come if we work together and we will not go anywhere if we do not consider unity as a political project,” she said.
Femi Kuti emphasized the importance of history. “Our children must learn this story by growing up so they can build the continent. We need everyone, boys and girls, to make this vision a reality,” she said.
The UBA Debate on Africa, an initiative of the pan-African financial institution, aims to aggregate the discussions necessary for the growth and development of the continent. Present in 20 African countries, as well as in the United States, France and the United Kingdom, UBA’s passion for Africa’s growth is on its agenda.
The bank is ready to continue the debate on those topical issues that are needed to boost the African economy in order to attract the support needed to stimulate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and support business growth on the continent.