Forty-three years ago, on May 25, 1963, leaders of thirty-two African nations met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and formed the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Among the OAU’s goals were providing 200 million Africans with a single voice, liberating the continent from colonial rule, and promoting the dignity and honor of African peoples. The Africa Diplomatic Corps in Washington, DC launched “Africa Week” to improve US-Africa relations and to showcase the continent.
Tshepo Mazibuko is the Press Secretary at the South African Embassy here in Washington. He described the significance of this event to Voice of America reporter Howard Lesser. “Africa Week is an initiative that was started by the ambassadors to try and begin to influence and change the image of Africa in the US. As Ambassadors serving here in Washington, we promote all the initiatives of the African Union.”
In 2002, the OAU was restructured into the African Union (AU). The new grouping strives to be more efficient, increase achievement of political rights, and increase growth in the economic, social, and cultural sectors.
Mazibuko says, “Peacekeeping is extremely important, but so is poverty alleviation. So is infrastructural development. And so is resource mobilization. And so is trade and exports and imports. All these initiatives are part of the African New Economic Plan for Africa’s Development and here in the U.S., we are promoting all these initiatives.”
The “Africa Week” events, including panel discussions, diplomats’ speeches at thirty Washington area public schools, a journalists’ round table, and a seminar on Africa’s future energy needs, will culminate in a Dinner Ball, marking the Africa Union’s May 25th anniversary day. Some 800 guests of the Africa diplomatic corps will attend.
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