Leaders emphasise importance of history to African development
May 24, 2019
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
L-R CEO, UBA Africa,Victor Osadolor; Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka; Chairperson, AVON Medical Practice, Dr Awele Elumelu; Chairman of Ghana’s Convention People’s Party, and daughter of Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ms Samia Nkrumah; Group Chairman, UBA Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu; Chairperson, AVON Medical Practice, Dr Awele Elumelu; Guinean Historian and playwright, Professor, Djibril Tamsir Niane; Legal Practitioner and Moderator, Ms. Ayo Obe.
African leading minds have called on Africans to be mindful of their rich history, which according to them creates the path towards the socio-cultural, economic and political development of the African continent.
The UBA Conversations is an initiative of the Pan African financial institution, aims at aggregating discussions necessary for the growth and development of the continent. It is being held as part of the activities to mark the 2019 edition of Africa Day celebrations by the bank.
Strong African voices which included Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony O. Elumelu, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka; Professor emeritus and authority in Sahelian history, Djibril Tamsir Niane; Ghanaian Politician, Samia Nkrumah and Famous Musician, Femi Kuti spoke during the first edition of UBA’s Africa Conversations, a symposium organised by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc at the UBA House in Lagos, as part of activities marking this year’s Africa Day celebrations.
The theme of the panel session was “Africa’s History Redefined, Our Past, the Path to the Future”.
Opening the conversation, the Group Chairman, UBA, Tony Elumelu stated ‘UBA understands the past-that Africa as a continent has always been united by the struggle for identity, noting that UBA is a symbol for the development of Africa, for the economic empowerment of the people and the Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the big corporations.
“Identifying with Africa and indeed Africa Day is synonymous with who we are as a bank. It presents us the opportunity to remind ourselves, the world and indeed Africa that we owe ourselves the duty of making Africa the continent of our dreams,” he said.
He added that it was important for Africans to remember history as it will help prepare them for the future, noting that our past provides a veritable tool to fashioning the continent’s development, renaissance and economic growth’ he emphasised.
Speaking strongly on the issue, Professor Wole Soyinka, who commended UBA’s initiative for opening up discussions on these pressing topics decried the growing erosion of history from the curriculum in African schools, adding that the lack of knowledge of our past makes children’s growth on the continent truncated.
“How can we cope with the modern phenomenon if we do not know the past? We should never forget the importance of history as it is not just an academic exercise,” he enthused.
Corroborating Soyinka’s position, Professor Niane opined that reminiscing about Africa’s rich history is important as there is no people without history.
He said a lot of work has been done by Africans and they have to be happy about it, noting that there was a need to continue the conversation about African unity.
He said policies have been put in place and our democracy can only get stronger, peace will reign and Africa will be reunited, adding that economic transformation was also important but it is not the only thing Africa should concentrate on.
Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, commended UBA for prioritising African entrepreneurship, called for a renewed attempt at African unity, which according to her, has to be a collective effort of the people.
“As we work in our individual smaller countries, it will be easier to achieve more if we work together and complete unification can only come if we work together; we won’t go anywhere unless we use unity as a political project.’ She added.
On his part, Femi Kuti emphasised the importance of history, saying “Our children need to learn this history so that they can come up and build the continent. We need everyone both boys and girls to work towards this vision” he said.
With presence in 20 African countries as well as in the United States, France and The United Kingdom, UBA’s passion for Africa’s growth is part of who they are.
The bank is set to continue conversations around these important topics that are required to galvanise the African economy with the aim of attracting the much needed support that will boost SMEs and support business growth on the continent.