Almost every delegate, Kigali resident, journalist, politician and the business community has a story of their own regarding the just concluded AU summit. AU chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, honoured the organisers’ attention to detail, and one observer tweeted that The New Times should have carried the headline “Bravo Rwanda” - Bravo Rwanda for its lead story the day after the Summit ended.
While there is a lot to talk about, we bring you the top five highlights of the Summit that we will remember for a long time.
1. Ange Uwamahoro, Sophie Nzayisenga and Nyundo Choir
This trio nailed it. In case you have never heard about them, your life is incomplete. Uwamahoro is poet number one. Clad in an elegant black dress, she wowed the audiences with not only her multilingual poetry skills, but also her message to African leaders; “Africa – we shall build by ourselves. With drive and determination, Africa can make and live off its own brands”. Sophie, the only female Inanga player (a large tough-zither instrument) is just awesome. Period. She gave Uwamahoro the soothing Inanga sounds to make the poem tick.
The performance would not have been complete had it not been the powerful back-up from Nyundo Choir. If in less than two years since the Nyundo School of Art was established, it is producing such talent; a lot is going on for this country. Forget STEM, with such talent, one pretty much has their future cut out. Their singing blew the delegates away. Let’s hope their concerts are in the offing. The powerful poem is on Uwamahoro’s Instagram.
2. The African Passport
Everyone is talking about free movement of people and boosting trade as the major benefit of the African passport. How about giving Africans back their dignity? Have you ever traveled outside Africa and the immigration officer asks you where you are from and you say Rwanda, or Kenya, and they ask if that is in South Africa? Well, those days are soon coming to an end.
With the African passport, we shall all be Africans, a force no one can tamper with, be it trade or natural resources. I know we all joke about “Africa is not a country” but think about this, what if it was a country? The passport is a great start to endless opportunity for united Africans after all; we have way a lot in common.
3. The billion dollar resolution
If someone ever asks whether beyond the glamour of the Summit there are any resolutions the Summit came up with, a one line response should suffice – USD 1.2 billion.
The AU has been financed by donors and considering the old English adage - he who pays the piper, plays the tune – the continent has lost out to other people’s interests.
Yes, the Heads of State are now walking the talk. At the 2016 AU summit in Kigali, they approved a self-financing model that will see African countries raise the required resources to finance the Commission’s activities and peacekeeping missions. This is without doubt a big step as the continent seeks to wean off aid and shed off the reputation of dependency. It was high time Africa broke off from the bondage of aid and started dancing to its own tunes.
President Paul Kagame was then tasked to lead the revamping of the African Union. As a man who never shies away from a challenge, he humbly accepted the task saying he would work closely with the continent’s leaders to create a more impactful AU.
4. The Guest List
In case you missed this, Kigali was host to 35 Heads of State. A few friends at the AU will tell you that a great turn out at the summit averages 25 Heads of State. That is about 40 per cent more Heads of State than usual. Add former Heads of State and international organisations. And, for those who were unable to make it, their representatives were definitely high up there both in terms of caliber, status and leadership experience. What this means is more delegates, security and protocol. It was a true test for the organisers and so far, the feedback has been phenomenal. Excellent turn out by all standards.
The big question is why the Kigali Summit had such an exceptional guest list – both in number and caliber.
5. The Social Media Summit
Selfies, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Smartphone, 4G, wireless, live streaming and the other phrases that the social media era has brought along. With your smart phone, you could take pictures of the events and post them on your twitter account. With your smart phone, you could connect to the free wireless and follow the proceedings that were streamed live. With your smart phone you could pretty much do anything – record interviews, engage delegates, share stuff with your friends, receive alerts on who has arrived, is speaking and what they are saying, to mention but a few.
Police took to social media to give regular updates on traffic flow and disruptions helping Kigali residents to plan their movement. A week later, amazing pictures of the summit are still going around on social media and so are complements and views about the Summit.