Africa to celebrate the 50th anniversary…

Less than two weeks are left for Africa to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of its continental body. There are no less than 80 events planned to be held not only in the host city, Addis Abeba,  gossip disclosed. All member countries will have something to stage on May 25, 2013, while all their embassies and diplomats across the world are instructed to organize spectacular shows on the same day, claims gossip.

Senior officials at the African Union (AU), the offspring of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), look beyond just paying tribute to the founding in Addis Abeba, back in 1963, of the organization with a series of events inside the Union’s headquarters, and later on the day in the Millennium Hall on Africa Avenue (Bole Road), claims gossip. They want to take advantage of the occasion to stimulate a continent wide intellectual exercise, hoping to develop a scenario for 2063, gossip disclosed.

But these are only a couple of the events set to take place on the birthday of the Union, gossip disclosed. There will be several other activities planned by the Commission, the host country and plenty of other organizations in the weeks before and after May 25, says gossip.

Side events to be organized by diverse people of esteem, from Kofi Annan to Thabo Mbeki, are on the offing, gossip learnt.

One such planned event is to be chaired by Mbeki, a South African statesman who is a lead-negotiator for the Sudans; he will be a keynote speaker at a Panel called to reflect on the legacy of Emperor Hailesellasie in the formation of the OAU, hence his contributions at the time, gossip disclosed.

Oddly enough, the panel is jointly organized by Hailesellasie I Memorial Foundation, chaired by Nahusenay Araya, and the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, claims gossip. And organizers hope to see the panel unravel the Emperor’s efforts and his government’s contribution to the formation of the OAU, while at the same time documenting them, gossip disclosed.

A distinguished list of panellists is lined up to accomplish this task, including Andreas Eshete (PhD); former president of the Addis Abeba University; Teshome G. Mariam, a lawyer and senior official during the Imperial era; Brehane Deressa, former mayor during the caretaker administration of Addis Abeba; Mengiste Desta and Hailu W. Giorgis, the latter two former ambassadors, gossip disclosed. It will be moderated by Dawit Zewdie (MD), director of Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA), according to gossip.

The panel however appears to be a prelude to what a group of people comprising locals and eminent personalities in the continent are set out to do in restoring the legacy of Emperor Haileselassie, whose reputation was tarnished by relentless campaign of the military government for two decades, gossip claims. Here too are familiar names such as Mbeki, Andreas, Teshome, Dawit, Abdul Mohammed, and Salim A. Salim, former secretary general of the OAU, gossip disclosed.

The nation’s Head of State, Girma W. Giorgis, is also on board, lobbying the executive and legislative branches of the government to positively respond to the group’s requests, according to gossip.

The group wants to see not only that the statue of the Emperor gets erected inside the AU compound as the case is with the pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah. Its members may be content even when the statue is put in a visible place in the capital, while they proposed that the administration of Hailemariam Desalegn to allow the renaming of Addis Abeba University to its former Hailesellasie I University, gossip says. Indeed, the Emperor donated his private residence when what was at the time Addis Abeba University College was opened. This is in addition to restoration of the name of what is now a vocation college, Teferi Mekonnen School, up at Entoto Road, opened after he put his own money long before he was crowned.

These proposals were made by President Girma both to the Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, Abadulla Gemeda, claims gossip. He was, however, persuaded not to push on the group’s desire to rename Bole International Airport after the Emperor, claims gossip.

Published on May 12, 2013 [ Vol 13 ,No 680]



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