While the African continent should promote Afro-optimism and Ubuntu, challenges such as possibly not meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline must be addressed, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said at the start of the Global African Diaspora Summit in Johannesburg on Friday.
"It is of concern that while the world is three years away from the Millennium Development Goals deadline of 2015, we face the threat of Africa not meeting this deadline. This is one task that the AU Commission must be preoccupied with," he told the delegates
Delegates from across the continent and the African diaspora across the Atlantic gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre on the eve of the summit, which coincides with Africa Day.
At the event, attended by African Union chairperson and President of Benin, Boni Yayi, as well as chairperson of the AU Commission Jean Ping, Zuma said it was necessary to tap into the knowledge and skills of the diaspora to help create a meaningful leadership path for the AU towards realising the MDGs.
Education was key to the continent's total emancipation. However, that education should be of a calibre that does not promote underdevelopment, powerlessness, dependency and confusion.
Zuma called on Africa to reverse "self-hate and Afro-pessimism.", stressing that: "We must promote the principles of self-love, Afro-optimism, Ubuntu and the respect for human worth and human dignity," Zuma said to a packed room of delegates. We are now one people, and must work together for the betterment of the peoples of African descent, regardless of geographical borders."
Zuma challenged the summit to innovate ways to involve the diaspora in affairs of the continent, particularly the AU, in a more concretised, formal manner.
The continent was praised for moving towards viable peace, development and sustainability - a milestone from the 16 raging civil wars in 2002.
In his address, Yayi called on member states to commit themselves to rid the continent of challenges like poverty and bad governance.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and King Mswati of Swaziland were among some of the dignitaries sharing the dinner table with Zuma at the beautifully decorated venue. There was a strong police presence in and around the venue.