Salvador- Brazil (PANA) – The outgoing and incomin-g chair of the Conference of Intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora (CIAD), have called for greater solidarity and partnership between Africa and its Diaspora to foster development among people of African descent.
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who was handing over to his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the opening of the second conference (CIAD II) here, stressed the necessity for African unity.
"Considering that our continent's share of the world trade is only 1.
7% and less that 1% in terms of global investments, the only solution is for Africa to complete its unity through the realisation of the United States of Africa," Wade added.
He lauded the contributions by Brazil, a country he considers as "one of tomorrow's four major powers.
" Lula da Silva agreed with his Senegalese counterpart saying that in view of his country's rich and unique experience in the field of bio-diesel, with particular reference to vegetable oil, he was already considering alternatives to oil.
"Instead of drilling 4,000 metres deep holes to find oil, we will very soon be 'planting oil' in order to obtain an alternative energy and all the fuel we need," he said in a speech greeted by loud applause.
Hailing Africa's invaluable contribution to the development of of his country, the Brazilian leader also called for a world with less diseases, less unemployment, less hunger, and less injustices, the theme of Africa Union (AU) Commission chair, Alpha Oumar Konare's intervention.
The former Malian leader, who spoke on African Renaissance, said: "After the failure of the nation-States (in Africa for several decades), the only nation with value is the African nation.
" He added: "We must affirm that to satisfy the needs of Africa we must pass through the United States of Africa: the strategy is already available, we just need to define the approach.
" Konare also stressed the need to establish a formal link between Africa and its Diaspora, saying it would be necessary to reactivate the Conference of People's of Africa, and also create a foundation for the United States of Africa as well as a University for the United States of Africa.
To this end, Senegalese President Wade has called for the establishment of the Diaspora as the continent's "sixth region" to complement the five traditional zones of North, West, East, South and Central Africa.
Noting that the word "Diaspora" is missing in the AU's Constitutive Act, Senegal has called for the omission to be corrected.
In an interview with PANA, Senegalese Foreign Minister, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, said: "it is a question of recognising the Diaspora as the continent's sixth natural, historical, political, emotional and intellectual region.
" Contrary to popular belief, black communities in America and West Indies "do not constitute the sole members of the Diaspora," Gadio observed, noting that Black Peruvians, Black Columbians, Afro-Cubans and Africans in Brazil, the second black nation after Nigeria should also be taken into consideration.
According to the Senegalese Minister, "we also have in the United States members of the black community who have crossed the border into Canada, as well as African migrants who left the continent after the period of the independence in search of better conditions of living abroad.
" He spoke of two African Diaspora, one with historical links which comprises all people descending from those who had been brutally torn from their native continent centuries ago "and who claim they still belong here, just as we do.
" "There is also the modern Diaspora," he said, comprising the "Nigerian-Americans, Senegalese-Europeans, Cameroonian-Dutch, Gambian-Swedes and also Algerians from France, Moroccans and Tunisians from Spain and Italy or the 200,000 Egyptian executives, doctors, engineers and researchers living and working in North America.
" Jamaican Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, harped on the pride of black people and their dignity, praising some of her compatriots, such as Marcus Garvey, Dudley Thompson and Bob Marley, for their role in the promotion of African emancipation.
She said although Africans in the Diaspora were separated by distance and languages, "they remain united through blood, past ordeals and history," stressing that after political independence, Africa and its Diaspora should free themselves from economic enslavement.
Other eminent personalities who addressed the round table on African Renaissance at the conference, included Presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, John Kufuor of Ghana and Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial- Guinea.
Some 1,000 intellectuals from Africa, America, the West Indies and the Caribbean are also attending the two-day meeting, a follow-up to the first conference held in October 2004, in Dakar, Senegal.