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Africa: From the Cradle of Humankind to the "Deathbed of Humankind"

Historically Africa is known as the cradle of humankind, a continent that bore the first existence of man. The continent holds varied cultures and traditions that are carried in the hearts of multilingual tribes and ethnic groups who have for years displayed great skill and intellect. From the Great Pyramids of Egypt to the Great Walls of stone (Great Zimbabwe) in Zimbabwe, the Mosaic Art of Morocco and the rich landscapes of natural resources, untamed wildlife and rich flora and fauna. Africa remains a continent with a history of unity, strength and courage. Marked by its love for cultural dance and music signifying respect for a family union, celebration, prayer, unity and military prowess, Africa's beauty is undeniable.

However, the rich continent with each rising sun has been tainted by the devastating effects of drought, scarce resources and corruption. What once was the Cradle of Humankind has become the deathbed of humankind as millions of lives are lost to disease pandemics, war and hunger. The diverse cultures that should be our pride have become the reason the continent has taken arms to fight each other. This year as we celebrate Africa Day under the theme "Silencing the Guns, creating a conducive environment for Africa's development", we must remember our forefathers' dreams. The significance of the guns they carried through unity from Cape to Cairo and their fight against colonization was to build the United Africa that had been partitioned by colonial rule. May 25 celebrations are intended to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of the Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U) which is now the African Union (A.U), from its creation on May 25, 1963, in the fight against colonialism and apartheid to the present day progress that the continent has made in a global environment. It is also a time to reflect on the common challenges that the continent faces.

Celebrating Africa Day each year is a reminder that we must build, maintain and celebrate the Africa we want as a people. This year we must remember that the guns we use to fight each other do not build a solid foundation for equality but kill Africa's progress instead. May we remember that we were one before we had borders and political divides. May we remember that our fight is not against each other but for a better life, good health and justice for all.

1963 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was about bringing back the Africa we had before colonization and apartheid, a United States of Africa whose wealth, resources and services are bent on making the lives of Africans better than it was during colonial rule.

We cannot push for development when access to resources continues to be unevenly distributed and some continue to suffer from the fate of being ethnically, politically and religiously different from the oppressor. We are one no matter where in this world we may be. In the words of Kwame Nkrumah "We are African not because we were born on the continent but because Africa runs in our blood".

Although this year we cannot ululate in arenas and dance to loud drums in stadiums because of the Covid-19 pandemic, let us take this time to reflect on how much we need each other in order to stay healthy and alive. So that when we step out of the world we once took for granted we may turn our machetes into ploughshares. Staying true to who we are, the cradle of humankind, a continent known for laughter and unity. Let us embrace our differences and use them as the strength with which we can build our economies. No matter the political or religious affiliation we all want one thing and that is a fruitful Africa that enjoys the fruits it bears. Our different cultures, customs, traditions, beliefs and languages are the reasons we should foster unity for development that our true beauty may be known across the world.

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