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At CBAAC Conference, stakeholders synergise on African unity, development

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
07 July 2019   |   3:54 am
Pan-Africanism and the Forging of a New African Identity in the 21st Century was the theme of the 2019 conference organised by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC). The two-day conference, which held recently in Abuja, in collaboration with the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Abuja, brought together…

An artsite performs at the event<br />

Pan-Africanism and the Forging of a New African Identity in the 21st Century was the theme of the 2019 conference organised by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC).

The two-day conference, which held recently in Abuja, in collaboration with the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Abuja, brought together members of the academia, historians, political scientist and the arts community.

The well-attended programme brought back memories of the yearly conferences experienced during the administration of Professor Tunde Babawale as the chief executive of CBAAC in content and organisation.

The conference created a veritable platform for interrogating the experiences of black and African people in history, particularly in areas of arts, politics and leadership.

Speakers particularly expressed concern over the slow developmental pace of African nations and attempted to proffer solutions.

To some of them, arts remained a catalyst, not only for the unit of African people but for socio-economic empowerment.

In her opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion and former Minister for Women Affairs, Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman, described the theme of the conference as both topical and timely considering the crises of identity that is prevalent in the 21st century Africa.

According to her, CBAAC’s conferences and programmes are often geared towards highlighting the diverse contributions of black and African people all over the world towards protecting the dignity of the black race as well as extend the frontiers of knowledge.

She stated: “This theme is important because Africa is one section of the world where people are inclined to wait for bad news. Consequently, what is good even when it is extra-ordinary becomes of little or no interest.

“The interest, especially in the world press about Africa is unfortunately marched by superficiality and stereotypes. It is on this note that the topic of today’s occasion finds relevance.”

Earlier in her welcome address, the acting Director General of CBAAC, Mrs. Ndidi Aimienwauu, expressed the need to reposition Africa in such a way to enable it take responsibility of its myriad of problems.

Noting that the conference aligned itself with the Federal Government’s mantra of next level, the D.G stressed that the commitment to lift governance to the next level in Nigeria also connotes moving Africa and people of African descent to the net level of economic development.

To move ahead, CBAAC boss insisted that Africans must use all the implements of conquests at their disposal to overwhelm the world.

“This is the reason scholars of English and Literature, Theatre, Music and so on were included to espouse the role of films, theatre, music, arts and more in this endless quest to reposition Pan-Africanism. That undying zeal to make Africa the foremost continent in the world has to begin with proper attention focused on the youths and their careers.

“In our own struggle for national cohesion, human dignity and social redemption, how can we usefully deploy Pan-Africanism to better the fortunes and future of Africa?” She asked.

She informed that for them in CBAAC, Pan-Africanism symbolises racial co-existence, equality and respect for the human person.

“It looks beyond the narrow confines of class, race, tribe and religion and promotes equal opportunity for all irrespective of ideological difference,” the acting D.G. asserted.

Yet, with persistent cases of violence, poverty, hunger, diseases and all forms of socio-cultural and economic woes, Aimienwauu wondered if the last has been heard of Pan-Africanism.

“Is Pan-Africanism irrelevant? If not, how then do we forge through an invigorated Afrocentric and Pan-African vision, a new African identity?” She asked.

The keynote address was delivered by Professor Aja Akpuru-Aja of Abia State University, Uturu.

In a presentation titled ‘Pan-Africanism, the African Union and Continental Security: Matters Arising’, the lecturer took the audience through an emotional path that reminded Africa of its pathetic position among comity of nations.

He, however, blamed African backward position largely on its leaders who have remained adamant in the face of glaring civilisations around and have refused to stand strong on their own for the good of their people.

In the introductory part of his presentation, Akpuru-Aja held that Pan-Africanism is no product but a process in forging a new African identity based on brotherhood, unity of purpose between people that are indigenous to Africa and people of African descent.

The professor expressed worries that although 17 years of African Union on continental security have revealed certain commendable efforts, the African past and present have not repositioned the continent to look at the future with optimism.

“African indeed still remains a continent of rich land but lost opportunities – the poorest in global political economy.

“African continental security is endangered by high cases of governance failure and violent extremism across sub-regions; lack of political will by states to operationalise the rebirth of Pan-Africanism.”

“Ironically, even on internal threats to the continent, African leaders act more as pawns to international do ‘gooders’, extra-continental powers whose political and economic interests dictate more, the brand of military interventions in African conflict situations.”

He concluded by admonishing that to save the future generation of Africans of persistent scourge of divisiveness and violent extremism, the AU member states need to embrace strongly the philosophy of Pan-Africanism.

“It is an invigorating process rather than finished products. Noteworthy is that rebirth of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century is not far from the current Chinese Dream which is about unity of purpose, self-rejuvenation at home and abroad”, he said.

He added that to strengthen the AU as a beacon of unity for all people of African descent, Nigeria in collaboration with South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Algeria must forge closer synergy of leadership responsibilities.

“Without embracing the spirit of Pan-Africanism, it will be too difficult for the AU and member states to establish the nexus between continental security and continental development process”, the speaker said.

Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, was at the event and he expressed the role of culture in national and continental unity.

Noting that there is no country that is totally free from challenges, he called on Nigerians to be positive and portray the country in good light so as not to scare foreigners.