Members of the Rwandan Chapter of the Pan African Movement (PAM) and other Pan-Africanists gathered in Kigali, yesterday, to celebrate the African Liberation Day.
During the celebration, the Pan-Africanists urged all Africans to liberate their minds and bring about self-governance and prosperity in their homeland.
Marked on May 25, the African Liberation Day is observed by many African countries to celebrate the hard-fought achievements of their freedom from European colonial powers.
Organised by PAM-Rwanda, yesterday’s celebrations were marked by various discussions about how to advance Africa and Africans in all aspects of their lives, with discussions focusing on identifying key challenges that still hamper Africa’s total liberation and practical solutions.
The event was presided over by the PAM-Rwanda Chairperson, Protais Musoni, who began by paying tribute to great Pan-Africanists such as Nigeria-born Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, the former Secretary-General of the Global Pan African Movement who died in an accident in 2009 en route to Kigali.
He said this was a time to reflect on what the black African has achieved and how better the situation can get and whose role it should be to change things.
Role of the media
The discussions also looked at how the media in Africa can help nurture African youth to achieve total liberation of the continent.
Pan-Africanist Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, an outspoken Kenyan lawyer who once served as the Director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and is currently the Director of Kenya School of Laws, told the gathering in Kigali that African countries need real leaders if they are to develop.
“Africa needs you to lead her,” he told hundreds of participants at the celebrations, also urging them to start paying attention to different parts of the continent where people are still dying of hunger and war.
“We can improve our own Africa. We are not cursed,” he said, arguing that leaders in Africa are currently running economies that aren’t fulfilling their full potential.
Rwandan journalist Valentin Umuhire, who was among the moderators, agreed that Africans need to work harder to liberate themselves from different kinds of oppression, starting with bringing about peace and good governance in all the parts of the continent.
“Africa is still oppressed and that’s why we are trying to liberate ourselves. It’s a long journey but we hope and believe that we will do it,” he said.
During the celebrations yesterday, it was noted that it’s a pity some European countries still consider some African countries as their colonies more than half a century after the liberation movement started on the continent.
In order to overcome dependence, Africans have been advised to better use their media outlets and education systems to change mindsets among African youth so they can feel and believe that they are truly free and independent.
“We need to nurture our children and to find time to speak to them. It’s not only about the media but parents and the entire society should help children to grow up with the right kind of mindset,” said Rwandan television journalist Fiona Mbabazi.
But Dr Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a Kampala and Kigali-based independent researcher and political analyst, told participants that it’s still incumbent on African political leaders to push the pro-Africa agenda in the media because media practitioners alone can’t manage to provide the kind of needed coverage for the continent.
“When you look at the media, the treatment of Africa is extremely shallow,” he said, urging African political leaders to push messages in the media to educate the youth about their history and the continent’s liberation.
The African Liberation Day was founded during the first Conference of Independent African States, which attracted African leaders and political activists from various African countries, in Ghana on April 15, 1958.
Government representatives from eight independent African states attended the conference.
The purpose of the day is to annually mark the liberation movement’s progress and to underline the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.