African leaders emphasise importance of history to continent’s development
Pundits have called on Africans to be mindful of their rich history, which according to them creates the path towards the socio-cultural, economic, and political development of the continent.
The strong African voices, which included Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu; Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka; Prof. Djibril Tamsir Niane; Ghanaian politician, Samia Nkrumah; and famous musician, Femi Kuti, spoke during the first edition of UBA’s Africa Conversations.
This is a symposium organised by the bank in Lagos, on Wednesday, as part of activities marking this year’s Africa Day celebrations, which was themed: “Africa’s History Redefined, Our Past, the Path to the Future.”
Specifically, the UBA Group Chairman, Elumelu said: “UBA understands the past- that Africa as a continent has always been united by the struggle for identity. UBA is a symbol for the development of Africa, for the economic empowerment of our people, the Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the big corporations. Thus, identifying with Africa and indeed Africa Day is synonymous with who we are as a bank.
It presents us the opportunity to remind ourselves, the world and indeed Africa that we owe ourselves the duty of making Africa the continent of our dreams.”Elumelu added that it is important for Africans to remember history, as this will help prepare for the future. “Our past provides a veritable tool to fashioning the continent’s development, renaissance and economic growth,” he emphasised.
Speaking strongly on the issue, Soyinka, who commended the UBA’s initiative for opening up discussions on these pressing topics, decried the growing erosion of history from the curriculum in African schools, adding that the lack of knowledge of our past makes children’s growth on the continent truncated. “How can we cope with the modern phenomenon if we do not know the past? We should never forget the importance of history as it is not just an academic exercise,” he enthused.
Corroborating, Niane opined that reminiscing about Africa’s rich history is important as there are no people without history, saying: “A lot of work has been done by Africans and we have to be happy about it. There is the need to continue the conversation about African unity. Policies have been put in place and our democracy can only get stronger. Peace will reign and Africa will be reunited. Economic transformation is also important but it is not the only thing we should concentrate on.”
Samia, daughter of a former Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, commended UBA for prioritising African entrepreneurship, and called for a renewed attempt at African unity, which has to be a collective effort of the people.
Femi Kuti emphasised the importance of history, saying: “Our children need to learn this history so that they can come up and build the continent. We need everyone – both boys and girls to work towards this vision.”The UBA Conversations, an initiative of the Pan African financial institution, aims at aggregating discussions necessary for the growth and development of the continent.