President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has described Africa Day an explicit affirmation of Africa's rejection of colonial and imperialistic domination of the Continent. She said exactly 54 years ago, 32 African nations converged in Ethiopia to establish the OAU, now the AU.
According to an Executive mansion release, President Sirleaf was speaking yesterday during the 54th Anniversary of Africa Day in the C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
She said the historic day finds its root in the Africa Freedom Day previously celebrated on April 15. The Liberian leader recalled that following Ghana's independence, Kwame Nkrumah convened the first Conference of Independent African States on April 15, 1958, of which Liberia was a part. The April 15 conference she said was also considered the first Pan-African Conference, which brought together various African countries and served as a platform on which African countries mobilized in the struggle against colonialism.
President Sirleaf noted that during this period - the call was made for the commemoration of an African Freedom day once a year in order to mark the achievements of the liberation movement; and to signify the determination of the people of African to emancipate themselves from foreign influence and domination. She added that on the same day May 25, 1963, the African leaders agreed to change Africa Freedom Day, now African Union Day from April 15 to May 25.
The ECOWAS Chairperson also said the celebration of Africa Day is not only special to Liberia, but Africans alike. She pointed out that it allows all Africans the opportunity for genuine retrospection, through assessment of who we are, and where we want to be in years to come.
President Sirleaf said with support from partners, we are endeavoring to ensure that Africa remains peaceful and progressive. "We are now discussing modalities for the implementations of the AU reform proposals, which strive to transform the AU into a self-reliant continental body," she underscored. Admittedly, the reforms she pointed out are also intended to make the AU more efficient politically, operationally, and financially, so that the African multilateral organization is better positioned to meet its mandate to member states and its citizens.
She indicated concerns about continued conflicts in parts of Africa including Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, among others. President Sirleaf also said "Until we can have lasting peace in all of Africa, progress towards development will remain uneven; stressing - to this end, we must accelerate our effort towards achieving the African Development Agenda 2063, which clearly projects the "Africa we want".
She acknowledged the imperative to maximize the huge potential our very youthful population brings to the table. "Harnessing the demographic dividends through investments in the youths would not only mean providing the requisite education, but also creating job opportunities, she observed. The Liberian leader therefore, called for the need to enhance starting with intra-African trade to enhance investment horizon commencing with the strengthening of intra-Africa trade and progressing to marketing African goods internationally.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Governance Commission (GC), Dr. Amos C. Sawyer said Liberia's role in the emancipation of Africa from colonialism and Trusteeship will always be remembered. He said it was a result of that intervention that during the civil conflict and the deadly EBOLA attack - both ECOWAS and AU stood firmly by Liberia.
For his part, the AU Ambassador to Liberia, Ibrahim M. Kamara said that since 2004 AU Liaison Office has been in Liberia - working with the government due to Liberia's pivotal role in the fight against colonialism. He said Liberia under the leadership President Sirleaf has committed itself in various capacities.