South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma has said that Africa ``is no longer the dark continent''.
Zuma, who presided over the opening session of the Global African Diaspora Summit in Johannesburg on Friday, said the summit must have meaning for people in the continent and change the realities of their circumstances.
``It must be a story that says Africa, working with its diaspora, will move faster to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
``The new story must say the rising new Africa will lead to the eradication of Afro-pessimism and prejudice and to the exposure of the achievements that have been scored by black people across the oceans over the years,'' Zuma said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the summit with the theme ``Towards the Realisation of a United and Integrated Africa and its Diaspora'', is being attended by over 64 current and former Heads of State and Government and representatives from the diaspora.
The summit is discussing how best to harness skills and energies within Africa and abroad, for the socio- economic development of the continent.
Zuma called on the summit to adopt the spirit of leaders likes Julius Nyerere, Martin Luther King, Steve Biko, Sylvester Williams, Marcus Garvey and Nelson Mandela, who wanted to see black people regardless of borders, treated with respect and dignity.
``They wanted to see dependency and underdevelopment ending, replaced by a new Africa that took control over its resources for the benefit of its peoples.
``To achieve the goals of an African renewal, its diaspora should work together in more organised ways to advance the African Agenda worldwide,’’ Zuma said.
According to him, there is need for Africans to end the living conditions which make Africans suffer endlessly from malaria, TB, AIDS as well as political and economic conditions that challenge development on the continent.
``Let us create a platform to look again and take stock of what we have done, not only in this summit, but as men and women who are committed to the cause of Africa.
``If we make use of this summit to propel the commitments we have pledged to our people, we will indeed be seen as true advocates of a prosperous and united Africa," Zuma said.
Chairperson of AU Commission, Jean Ping called for mass mobilisation of African people to project African values in global affairs.
He reiterated that rebuilding the African family was and would always remain work in progress that could not be accomplished in one day.
``It is through commitment and dedication from the leaders that rebuilding of African family can be attained,’’ Ping said.
AU Chairman and President of Benin, Boni Yayi, 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.
Yayi called on member states to commit themselves to rid the continent of poverty and bad governance.
Vice President Namadi Sambo is among important dignatries attending the meeting.