One of Africa’s untapped treasures is her history, it has not been told enough. We all need to know our story – the good, the bad and the complex.
“The biggest happening in the past century was our independence but in this century, it is our unification- the power of unity lies with you.” These were the words of Samia Nkrumah at the 2019 UBA’s Africa Conversations.
It was a riveting panel discussion which featured some of Africa’s brightest minds. Economist, serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and Chairman UBA Group; Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Nigerian playwright, poet, essayist and activist; Wole Soyinka, Ghanaian politician and chairperson of the Convention People’s Party(Ghana), and daughter of Kwame Nkrumah; Samia Nkrumah and Guinean historian, playwright, short story writer and Honorary professor of Howard University and the University of Tokyo; Djibril Niane and Musician and activist; Femi Kuti. Legal practitioner and Activist, Ayo Obe moderated the session.
We know all too well that Africa is a vibrant continent filled with an abundance of resources but we still remain underdeveloped. This is yet another reason why our history needs to be told. “How do we begin to cope with the modern phenomenon when we do not know the ancient phenomenon of our existence, how we came to be and how we existed?” were the words of Wole Soyinka as he passionately spoke on the importance of understanding who we are as Africans, our years of suffering and being empowered by that understanding.
The conversations about Africa cannot be fully exhausted, there is a lot to be said about how our past can lead us to the future we strongly need and desire.
Tony Elumelu rightly expressed; “We understand the past and they say that those who understand the past are able to live the future. We understand that Africa as a continent has always been united first by the struggle for independence and after independence the unity for economic empowerment and development of the continent. Identifying with African day is an opportunity to remind ourselves and the world that until we are able to provide economic opportunities for every African, we have miles to go and we cannot sit back and relax”. He added “After 500 years of suffering, we can’t still be complaining in 2019, I want to see start-up from different industries conquering the world.”
Looking to the future requires reflecting on the past, and it often evokes both negative and positive emotions in us. We do not exclude it because it burdens us, we must learn from it. As Wole Soyinka stated; “History goes beyond an academic exercise, it’s a development exercise.”
What’s the way forward? The answer hasn’t changed, it’s broader and it still requires every one of us playing our part.
Samia Nkrumah emphasized this; “It is important for us to re-orientate ourselves as Africans, where we come from- we had a history before. We won’t have the courage to change the narrative if we don’t have the re-orientation. We must put pressure on our leaders take unity seriously. Complete liberation will come with unification”
As Africans, when we look back to our history to lay our future, we can create an economically, culturally and educationally developed Africa.
Djibril Niane added that “Our past has been denied and our people know nothing about it, but the path has been created, democracy will get stronger and work in each country. Peace will reign and Africa will be united”
Throughout the session, one message was clear: We must relearn and rewrite our history as Africans.
Learning our history will help us decolonize who we are says Femi Kuti. He continues “We don’t appreciate 500 years of slavery because there is no footage of history. History is important. If we had leaders who understood history, the priority of our leaders will be to provide infrastructure. We have come a long way but we have a very long day to go”.
The theme of the panel session – “Africa’s History Redefined, Our Past, the Path to the Future” was well engaged with by the audiences present and online
Some of the guests in attendance were: Pan- African Entrepreneur, Adebola Williams, members of the Delyork Creative Academy, CEO Avon Medical; Dr. Awele Elumelu, members of the press, Fashion Icon, Noble Igwe, Media goddesses, Folu Storms, Stephanie Coker, Producer Akin Akinkugbe, actresses, Juliet Ibrahim, Sharon Ooja, members of the press and staff of UBA Group and many others.
To sum up the significance of UBA’s Africa Conversation, Tony Elemulu reiterated UBA’s existence for 70 decades as a symbol of African development. He went on to say, “identifying African day is an opportunity to remind the world that our work is not done until we are able to provide economic opportunity for every African.”
The session ended on a high note with a picture session and a mini cock-tail for invited guests.
(Photo Caption) L-R: Samia Nkrumah; Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; Chairman, UBA Group, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Djibril Niane, Femi Kuti and moderator of the session, Ayo Obe.