Participants at the ongoing 10th Edition of the
International Roots Homecoming Festival have called for a complete and
un-delayed liberation of Africa in all aspects of human lives in the world,
especially the 21st Century.
The roots participants drawn from Africa, Europe, America and other parts of the world including the Caribbean Musical icon, Luciano made this historic unified declaration at a symposium held Friday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, The Gambia. This year's festival is on the theme "Celebrating African Unity, the role of Africans in the 21st Century". The symposium was headed by a five-man panel comprising Dr Momodou Tangara, minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad; Dr Pierre Gomez, senior lecturer at the University of the Gambia (UTG); Dr Alieu Badara Saja Taal, also a senior lecturer at UTG; Nana Grey Johnson, a renowned author, journalist and president of the Writers Association of The Gambia; and Ebou Moamar Taal, veteran Gambian diplomat.
Each of the panelists spoke extensively on different topics assigned to them for presentation and discussion all geared towards achieving the much awaited and talked about African unity, the unique position of Africa in the 21st Century and the role of Gambia in the struggle for African unity. Topical issues presented and discussed at the symposium included advocacy for revival of Africa, regional initiatives towards Africa's education, culture as a springboard for Africa's development, good governance for security, and revisiting Africa's education for indigenes through African languages among other pertinent issues.
Dr Momodou Tangara described Africa as the richest continent in the world in terms of mineral resources, but the poorest in terms of human and economic development thanks to the unforgivable acts of colonial masters in the continent. Dr Tangara recalled his recent trip to the AU meeting held in Ethiopia on the theme "Sharing of values". He pointed out that Africa had similar difficulties with other continents of the world, especially Europe and China, but they surmounted their challenges. He added that he sees no reason why Africa cannot overcome its' challenges and be developed like Europe, China and others. Dr Tangara stressed that Africa must hold on and move with its' development objectives without compromise in the 21st Century. "We must use technology to our benefit and development. Technology has made life more easier for everyone, especially researchers, scholars and those interested in itsí use," he stated.
Dr Pierre Mendy, who presented a paper on revising Africa's education for indigenes through African languages informed the audience among other things on the need for Africans to be ready to design Africa's education towards achieving sustainable development. He maintained that the control and domination of Africa was done during the colonial period as pointed out in the history of the continent. He described Africa as a continent blessed with a rich culture, literature and scientific knowledge as illustrated in the power of healing deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Asthma among others. He then defended his topic by drawing an extensive distinction between the role of language and education in development of any given country across the globe. Mendy also stated the need for Africans to take ownership of their development objectives.
Ebou Mamour Taal stated that history had revealed that the origin of man on earth and civilisation began in Africa in Egypt, hence has seen no need why the continent should make it like other continents of the world. The ex-Gambian diplomat then made extensive reference to the ex-empires of Mali, Ghana, Sine Saloum, the start of colonialism in Africa and the impact of the slave trade on The Gambia and the continent as a whole.
Nana Grey Johnson, veteran journalist, author and president of Writers Association of The Gambia, spoke about the need for good governance and security in Africa towards achieving development objectives of the continent. He quoted several eminent scholars and intellectuals of outstanding repute such as Kofi Annan, the ex-secretary general of the UN; and Kwame Krumah, the founding father of Ghana's independence among others to back up his paper at the panel.
Dr Saja Taal also defended his topic on the revival of Africa. After a brief introduction of his topic, he spoke to the audience with reference to his earlier written thesis on Pan-Africanism, a suspended idea and the need to have those ideals turn into reality for the benefit of Africa and her people. He also made extensive reference to what he called brave and courageous Pan-Africanists who fought for the liberation and freedom of Africa in the past.
Sanna Jawara & Musa Ndow