Reflections on Africa Day – ‘Us more important than Me’

By Josephine Mugiyo, Diplomatic Correspondent

WITH barely a week before Africa Day which is celebrated on May 25, the continent has been encouraged to focus on matters that connect its people in order to achieve economic emancipation.

‘Us’ is more important than ‘me’ – this should be the common attitude among African citizens as there is more that brings African nationals together than separates them.

Tanzania’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency Professor Emmanuel Mbennah, who spoke to ZBC News on the significance of Africa Day, believes that despite being separated by borders, Africa stands to benefit more if the people unite and work together towards common goals.

“Even though we have cultural diversity, there is more that binds us together. We have a lot of common ties. We are a people with Ubuntu. Us is more important than me. We have a set of values that emphasise unity,” he said.

According to Ambassador Mbennah, Africa’s unity should also be seen on the economic front.

While modalities have been put in place to boost trade among African countries, there is still room for more to be done to ensure that the continent takes its position on the global front in terms of creating a vibrant economy.

“On the intra-Africa trade we have come a long way. A very good development is the free trade area. This will address the challenges we face. We are not where we want to be, but we are on the right track.”

A common feature among African countries are the wars the different liberation movements fought to gain independence.

While emphasising the need to guard against neo-colonialism, Ambassador Mbennah noted the significant strides that have been made by Africa’s sons and daughters in various inventions, adding that there is also need to liberate the mind.

“We need liberation of the mind. There is much intellectual contributions by Africans. That in itself shows as Africans we are well capacitated. But we think we can’t. So we need to liberate the mind.“

Africa Day commemorations signify the formation of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which is now the African Union (AU).

The day was set aside to reflect on the continent’s cultural diversities and celebrate African countries’ socio-economic achievements.