We can do more to unite Africa - minister

2017-05-25 18:01
Minister of international relations Maite Nkoane-Mashabane speaks at a panel discussion on Africa Day. (Paul Herman, News24)

Minister of international relations Maite Nkoane-Mashabane speaks at a panel discussion on Africa Day. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town - International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says citizens of the continent can do more to unite Africa, starting with learning each other's languages.

Nkoana-Mashabane commemorated Africa Day at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday.

The day marks the formation of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. In 2002, the OAU was disbanded in by its last chairperson, then-president Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union (AU).

The minister said she believed that Africa was on its way to building bridges, but governments and citizens could do more to bridge the social, cultural and economic divides on the continent.

"Language had never been a barrier for Europeans to unite in shared interests, despite speaking different languages. We are one people. We are united in our diversity," she said.

"So language should never be a barrier, but we can do more."

Moses Masango, portfolio committee chairperson on international relations, said he was always disappointed when neighbouring countries on the continent were not teaching in indigenous languages.

"You're not going to develop your own culture in a foreign language," he said.

There was value in keeping and maintaining parts of an African country's colonial history, but people needed to build indigenous cultures from that.

'Cross-cultural languages'

He felt that Africa "was getting there", but it was important for civil society to join their respective leaderships to support the upliftment of the continent.

Zimbabwean ambassador to SA Isaac Moyo agreed with both Masango and Nkoana-Mashabane.

"There are certain languages that are cross-cultural, and we just need to do a little bit more to promote those for integration," he added.

Moyo cited Nigeria's Nollywood as an example of how the African continent had grown cross-culturally, with many southern Africa fans.

Host Peter Ndoro informed the crowd about the AU's Agenda 2063.

The year represents 100 years after the forming of the OAU, and the AU had identified four "highways" by which the continent could get there.

President Jacob Zuma will be elaborating on the agenda at a presidential event hosted in Pretoria to commemorate Africa Day later on Thursday.

Read more on:    au  |  maite nkoana-mashabane  |  cape town  |  culture

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