By Yunus S Saliu
In a good atmosphere with fanfare, the Daylight Africa, an African Diaspora based in New York City, USA, with other African countries which include Nigeria, Senegal among others, Friday, 9th September converged at the Penchami Hall, Paradise Suite Hotel in Kololi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of African Union in the Gambia.
The 20th anniversary of the AU was also used to launch the Daylight Africa Scholarship and as well given awards among other activities marking the celebration.
Speaking on behalf of the President of ECOWAS Commission His Excellency Dr Omar Alieu Touray at the celebration and his Resident Representative to The Gambia Her Excellency Miatta Lilly French, Claude Koudor, Political Advisor said it is an honour for ECOWAS to be invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, in collaboration with the African Union Day Foundation, as special envoy to deliver a statement commemorating the 20th anniversary of the transformation of African Union from the Organisation of African Unity, and also to celebrate “our brothers and sisters who are living in the Diaspora and are contributing tremendously to the political and social-economic stability of Africa.
He, therefore, expressed appreciation to the AU, UNDP, and African Diaspora based in New York City, USA for the laudable initiative of organising the ceremony in The Gambia.
He said they have made no mistake to do so as it is an opportunity for them to enjoy the warm Gambian hospitality and “more importantly, I do appreciate the efforts of the government of the Gambia for providing the enabling environment for this weeklong ceremony to take place without hindrance.”
Mr. Koudor said the African Diaspora is broadly defined by the African Union Commission as ‘peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.’
He observed that the definition vigorously underscores the significant role the African diaspora plays in the development of the continent and such initiative should be supported at all levels “and the slogan for this year’s commemoration is “Our Africa, Our Future.”
Again, he thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation Gambian Abroad; African Union Commission, and leaders of the African Diaspora for successfully organising the chain of activities in respect of the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity to the African Union.
Daylight Africa leader, Queen Mother Blakely, a Pan African American activist, spoke on the African Union Day Foundation and expressed delight over the celebration.
Musa Camara, Director for Diaspora and Migration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation Gambian Abroad welcomed the guests to the Smiling Coast of Africa, while Mutiu Olawoye one of the coordinators gave introductory remarks on the transformation of the OAU to AU, while Shekina Chinedu deliberated on the experience, opportunity and challenges of investment in The Gambia; and Sheikh Musa Drammeh has a lengthy talk on the dawn of new thinking.
Sheikh Omar Jallow, director of Performing Arts, and Literature at the NCAC received the Hodan Nalayeh Award by the African Union Day Foundation, for the first time in recognition of Diasporas