Obasanjo tasks intellectuals in Africa, Diaspora on regional integration

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora should help guide the continent's integration process and rebirth after centuries of interference by outsiders, Nigerian President and African Union (AU) chair, Olusegun Obasanjo said in Dakar, Senegal Thursday.
Speaking at a gala night Wednesday to honour Nobel laureates from Africa and the Diaspora on the eve of a three-day first conference of intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora, Obasanjo said Africa had not always been consulted on its own development, resulting in the continent being worse off.
"Not only were our people not consulted while huge reports about the communities and living conditions were produced in glossy publications, but the conclusions and prescriptions in such reports were often at variance with what was required.
"How else do we explain the continuing deterioration despite the numerous fantastic prescriptions designed for Africa by the international system.
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Africa's lack of progress, he observed could be a legacy of its colonial past.
"There was a time when the African continent was considered as a vacant territory to be occupied by sundry outside forces and ideas.
At least, that was the situation, in the one hundred years between the actual balkanisation of the continent in 1885, and the birth of the first independent Africa post-colonial States up to the 1980's.
"What happened at virtually every level was the recycling and rehashing of colonial and neo-colonial ideas.
We abandoned our traditions.
We did not build strong and viable intellectual institutions," the AU chair lamented.
He added: "In many countries, we actually undermined or demolished existing intellectual structures.
" The Dakar gathering, Obasanjo said, should give the intellectuals a chance to begin the process of reversing these trends.
On their part, the African leadership "has tried to forge its own praxis in the form of home-grown initiatives such as the Lagos Plan of Action, the African Priority Programme for Economic Recovery, specific responses to conflict, debt, rights of women and children, the environment, and global terms of trade," he noted.
"Of course, our most far-reaching, comprehensive, cohesive and realistic programme for responding to our problems and challenges today is the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which is a programme of the African Union.
"We have now developed and adopted NEPAD as a programme of the AU designed to achieve the restoration of peace and security, eradication of widespread and severe poverty, and wide income inequality; stem the spread of HIV/AIDS; promote accelerated growth and sustainable development; and reverse Africa's marginalisation in the global process," the Nigerian leader added.
Obasanjo challenged the intellectuals, saying the time had thrust a new opportunity on Africa and the Diaspora to undertake stock of the gains of the recent past since the birth of the Organisation of African Unity and the AU, "and the new challenges provided by the increasingly close-niche phenomenon of globalisation in forging the future destiny of Africa's continued growth and development.
" "For this purpose, the AU has technically designated the African Diaspora as a sixth region of Africa," the AU chair added.

07 october 2004 14:06:00




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