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Mahama, Khama Urge African Leaders To Pursue Unity And Progress

Former presidents of Ghana and Botswana have jointly called on African leaders to consciously pursue unity and progress, to enable the continent reach its full potentials and achieve sustainable economic prosperity.

John Dramani Mahama and Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama made this call on Saturday at the Second Edition of the African Heritage Awards held at the Marriott Hotel Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria, in the wake of political instability that has wrecked parts of Africa, and has seen a number of countries relegated to military rule.Speaking during a strategic Panel Session themed: ‘Shaping Africa’s Path To Prosperity’,

Mahama strongly noted that the youthful population of Africa is fast growing, thus, leaders must “move in a fast pace” to provide citizens with the dividends of democracy towards achieving self-reliance.

Mahama who was honored with the African Advancement Award for Exemplary Leadership at the event, said African countries can foster international cooperation by removing certain encumbrances like Visa restrictions, which he said is slowing down economic prosperity across the continent.

Recalling the pre-independence era, Dramani lamented that “Africa does not have the opportunities that advanced countries had in the past. There’s nobody to colonize, there is nobody to enslave all those things gave them the edge in their trajectory towards development”. “Our founding fathers, Kwameh Nkrumah had wanted the African continent to come out of independence as one nation, but unfortunately, we lost that opportunity and became 54 different countries, flags, anthems and markets.

This has constituted trade tariffs and other barriers,” he added.He admitted that Africa is currently moving towards the right direction, adding that the laid out economic blueprints of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and other regional “trade schemes are steps in the right direction” that “will allow our people to have a market of about 1.3 billion people”.

“There’s more money leaving the African continent than money coming in. All the loans, donations and grants take more monies out of Africa than what comes in.

In Africa, we should not need a visa to travel from Ethiopia to Ghana,” he said.Similarly, former Botswana president who was Chairman of the prestigious event, regretted that despite the huge amount of human and natural resources domiciled in Africa, the continent has not transited into economic prosperity.

He blamed corruption and bad leadership for the drawbacks.Khama said from his experience as a politician, it can be agreed that a lot of Africa’s “problems and instability is caused by some politicians”.

“My observation is that those politicians who fail to put the interests and needs of their people first are a cause for backwards”. He added that the “power-hungry, self-serving individuals taking control of our countries” are driving the continent backwards.

“We need leaders who are humble enough to understand that their role is simply to be of service to their people. The media has for the longest time peddled only a negative narrative about the African continent and we all have a responsibility to change that,” he said.

While expressing hope that the African Heritage Awards will continue to award and showcase the best that Africa has to offer, he said, “many of us do not know what our brothers and sisters are doing in their respective fields across the continent. It is high time we package and showcase our own brilliance as Africans”.

“We will continue to support you as this is an important undertaking that we should all promote. Let me therefore urge sponsors to get on board so that we grow the AfriHeritage Awards and African Excellence,” the former president assured.In his welcome address, Chief Host and Chairman of *Heritage Times HT*, Moses Siloko Siasia, posited that the solution of the world lies in the African continent.

“We have huge deposits of resources. Not just mineral resources, or the hydrocarbons and gas that we enjoy, the best resources that we have is human resource. Our people excel anywhere in the world. So we must not think less of ourselves as Africans. We must take charge, we must realize that we have the potential to be the solution the world needs”.

He urged African leaders to pursue progress with a sense of urgency and purpose to meet up with global realities, as the world is fast tilting towards “technological advancements, economic globalization, and shifting geopolitical dynamics”.

“As leaders of Africa, we must embrace these realities and adapt our policies and institutions accordingly”.Siasia decried that the African heritage is under threat by the forces of globalization, “which seek to homogenize cultures and commodify traditions”.

“It is threatened by conflict and violence, which tear at the social fabric of our communities. It is threatened by neglect and indifference, which allow our historical sites to crumble and our languages to fade into oblivion.

If we are to preserve our heritage for future generations, we must act decisively and collectively,” he added.

The Second African Heritage Awards was a sequel to the inaugural edition held last year in Kigali, Rwanda. The Third Edition which ia slated for next year, will hold in Marrakesh, Morocco, according to the organizers – Heritage Times HT.

Other distinguished Africans awarded alongside former Ghanaian president were, Dr. Jayne Onwumere, CEO of PWAN Group (African Humanitarian Award) and Africans Rising Movement (African Advancement Award for Social Justice and Advocacy).

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