Rwanda will in July host an Eastern African Pan-African Congress that will bring together 11 regional countries to discuss the advancements of ideology and movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide.
This was announced during the launch of Rwandan Chapter of the movement, yesterday, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in Kigali.
The July regional forum will be a roadmap to the eighth Pan African Congress, which is scheduled to take place next year, 22 years after the seventh congress.
The movement, whose existence is based on African belief that unity is vital to socio-economic and political progress, brings together many stakeholders ranging from government, political parties and women and youth’s groups, to civil societycivil society and academia.
Already, the Rwandan chapter has put in place a steering committee with representatives from key groups such as women, youth, civil society, political parties and the media.
The launch of the Rwanda Chapter comes in the backdrop of xenophobic attacks in South Africa and political violence in neighbouring Burundi, which has so far seen over 23,000 Burundians seek refuge in Rwanda.
The members termed both incidents as “anti-Pan African agenda,” blaming the situation in South Africa on retrogressive nationalistic ideology, and called for African countries to ‘walk to the Pan-African talk.’
Giving insights on the Pan-African Movement Agenda, Okwiri Rwabwoni, the global secretary-general of the movement, said unity is a strategic vision that will facilitate Africans to develop together.
Rwaboni said, to that effect, the global Pan-African secretariat was set to soon sign a memorandum of understanding with the African Union to augment duties to have voices and opinions of more citizens from across the continent heard.
Calling on young people to forge a Pan-Africa movement they would want, Okwiri called on the youth to be actively involved in the movement which had played a crucial role in the independence of the continent.
Rwaboni, a Ugandan retired army major, blamed the previous lapse of the movement on “selfish nationalism and over involvement of non-governmental organisations in African governance.”
“The previous Pan-African congress took place about 20 years ago and the movement has not been very active. This is due to negative nationalism by some African leaders who took over after independence such as Juvénal Habyarimana (former Rwandan president), Idi Amin (former Ugandan president) and others who did not share in the common vision of the movement,” he said.
The Rwandan Chapter chairperson, Protais Musoni, said the local chapter had a diverse membership from civil society to youth and women representatives, to members of parliament and academia making sure that Rwandans of all walks of life were well represented.
Joseph Karemera, who will act as the advisor to the committee, cautioned the chapter to refrain from being ‘another talk show’ but rather focus on integrating Pan-African values into the existing home grown initiatives.
“We are beginning at a time when we are commemorating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which took place as some nations watched. We ought to look out for one another, we should not watch other nations burn.”
The programme officer of global secretariat of the movement, Titus Kisambira, lauded Rwanda for launching the chapter and its diverse stakeholder mapping.
He said Rwanda’s mode of implementation would provide valuable inputs to the global initiative.
“Pan-Africanism has to be advanced by governments, it is therefore commendable that the Rwanda government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is part of the stakeholders of the movement. That way it can often act as a guiding principle in foreign policy,” Kisambira said.