Saturday, June 11, 2011

Africa Is On The Move: Interview With Pascal Onguemby

May 27, 2011

Africa is on the move

Interview with Pascal Onguemby, dean of the
African diplomatic corps in Cuba

FOR the recently liberated African nations, unity was a priority objective. The inheritors of Pan-Africanism, the dream of a United States of Africa and other attempts at supranational integration, they brought to life in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, a common voice to reaffirm independence.

The Organization of African Unity, which became the African Union (AU) in 2002, was founded on May 25, 1963, since then celebrated as Africa Day. Given the occasion, Pascal Onguemby, dean of the African diplomatic corps in Cuba and ambassador from the Republic of Congo in Cuba, spoke with Granma.

"Africa has been subjected to aggression throughout its history: the slave trade period which emptied the continent of millions, the long night of colonialism with its systematic plunder of our resources and finally, the neocolonial relations imposed on our countries after independence.

"Despite economic difficulties, the repeated crises, Africa is present, fomenting development, taking to heart the United Nations Millennium Development Objectives. Africa today has a voice and a vote and is making a contribution to universal civilization," Onguemby said.

What new challenges is the African Union facing on its 48th anniversary?

All of Africa is on the move, looking to complete integration of the continent. The African Union’s working bodies are persevering in fighting the lack of respect shown our culture by governments which impose their conceptions of development, lifestyle, production and consumption, contrary to the traditions and autonomy of our nations. The AU has emerged as the strongest representative body confronting the continuing presence of multinational corporations in Africa which seek to maintain their domination and exploitation of our natural and energy resources.

Given the current conditions of world crisis, what significance does the organization have?

The AU has allowed the many governments to address the crises as a group, in an atmosphere of solidarity, before international institutions. Although they are not adequately funded, AU programs serve to show the international community that the acute problems, which make life precarious in Africa, have global effects.

How much has the AU contributed to projecting this continental identity in various multilateral forums?

Given our past, our continent is very diverse, but the AU has united our forces: English, French and Portuguese-speaking, Arab and Hispanic to be able to all speak the language of African unity.

The firm principles upon which the organization was founded remain unscathed and this is projected abroad. Africa is in the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 plus China and there are meetings with Latin America. We don’t go as individual countries, but rather as a continent. Today all, regardless of the previous colonial power, are African first, in opposition to that which was imposed upon us by those who now criticize us, but who are responsible for the current situation on the continent.

How would you describe Cuban collaboration with African countries? What are the prospects for further development?

The relationship of collaboration and solidarity between Cuba and Africa has been very strong and insoluble since the first days of the triumph of the Revolution. Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz said that the world was in debt to Africa… Cuba has shown its solidarity with Africa in the struggle for independence and liberation from colonialism. Cuban blood has watered African soil.

Cooperation with Africa is an essential component of the Cuba Revolution’s foreign policy. Over the last five decades, more than 32,000 African young people have been educated in Cuba. Today Cuba’s army of white coats can be found in the most remote corners of Africa, bearing a single word: Health.

It’s Africa now, in reality, which is indebted to Cuba and we can repay this debt with our solidarity and our support in its struggle against the U.S. blockade and for the freedom of the Five.

In conclusion?

Africans don’t need any more promises, or paternalistic recipes. What the peoples of Africa are demanding is respect for their rights, a fair and equitable international order in which solidarity and cooperation are the guiding principles.

The African Union understands our situation and is convinced that only a united Africa can allow us to live free, without war, or fear or poverty and need, that is to say, in a victorious Africa.

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