As part of activities marking this year's African Union Day (AU) celebrations, the United Nations (UN) Information Centre, in collaboration with Splendors of Dawn Poetry Foundation, organised a youth forum to enlighten children on the significance of the celebrations.
The forum was organised last Thursday in Accra and was on the theme "The Role of Youth in Creating a Peaceful Africa."
In a statement read on behalf of the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, by Cynthia Prah, the National Information Officer, stated that the AU Day celebrations provided an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the people and governments of Africa and to reaffirm the support of the UN for efforts to build a better future.
Some of the achievements of Africa included the efforts to consolidate the peace and security architecture and the rejection of unconstitutional changes of power.
Mr Ki-Moon said Africa was a dynamic continent undergoing fundamental transformation and explained that during the world economic crisis, Africa's economies continued to expand while growth forecasts remained positive.
But he noted that the benefits of the growth were not reaching all Africans. Poverty, hunger and disparities in health and participation in society were preventing hundreds of millions of Africans from fully realising their potential.
Mr Ki-Moon added that the growing number the success stories across Africa indicated that broader social and economic progress was realistically attainable for most Africans. "I have personally seen the dividends of investing in women's and children's health and sustainable agriculture. I have spent many hours with African leaders who are committed to peace, human rights, democracy and good governance," he said.
He noted that the challenge was to extend these advances and ensure they reached all Africans, especially the continent's poorest and most vulnerable people as well as addressing the spectre of hunger from the highly visible periodic food emergencies to the hidden disgrace of stunting that was affecting a new generation of African children.
He said that many of these issues were on the table at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June this year in Brazil. He said that Rio+20 was a once-in-a- generation opportunity to mould the future where climate change and desertification were no longer threats as well as maternal and child mortality, and diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS were consigned to the past.
"From renewable energy to thriving oceans, from empowered women to productive partnerships between governments, civil society and business, Rio+20 is our chance to deliver for all, particularly Africa. On this observance of Africa Day, as the world tries to forge a renewed global partnership for sustainable development, I pledge to work with Africa's leaders and people to implement an agenda that addresses Africa's needs - an agenda that will set the continent on the path to the future we all want: dynamic, equitable and sustainable growth that benefits all Africans," he emphasised.
Jemima Yarquah, the Executive Manager of St. Paul's Lutheran School, said as Africans it was important to educate the school children on the cultural heritage of Africa.
She said many Africans were fighting against each other because they lack understanding of unity, hence the organisation of the forum to educate the children. As part of the activities, the pupils were taken through poetry recitals based on Africa.