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Senegal Awarded "Best African Country" Title

This month, Africans in the Diaspora will celebrate the “Best African Country Award” for 2006. The award, which is the first of its kind, will go to the West African country of Senegal. Chika Onyeani is the publisher and editor of the New York-based African Sun Times newspaper. He is also the chairman and CEO of the “Celebrate Africa Foundation.” Mr. Onyeani spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty about why Senegal was chosen as the first recipient of the “Best African Country Award.”

“There are six reasons that the board used in selecting Senegal. One of course, is democratic ideals. Senegal has had free and fair elections since its independence from France. The second one is good governance. Both governing party and opposition have been afforded equality too participate in elections. The third one is religious tolerance; the fourth one of course is gender equality. Women in Senegal are allowed to compete equally with men,” he said.

Onyeani says the Celebrate Africa Foundation was organized to promote the positive aspects of Africa.

“The fact is that we Africans, our leaders, our presidents, have been complaining about how they receive very bad media in America, and everything is about negativity in Africa. That is why at Celebrate Africa Foundation we decided that we have to find the way to bring out the positive things about Africa.”

Onyeani says the award will be an annual event.

“What we are saying is that other countries can aspire or can even want to do better than Senegal so that they can be recognized for the good things that they are doing in their countries. In effect, we want to change the perception of leadership and governance in Africa because we want people to say that if Senegal did this, then we can do better than Senegal.”

Onyeani says the ceremony, which was originally slated to take place September 15th this year in New York City, has been moved to the 18th in order to accommodate President Abdoulaye Wade who, Onyeani says, will be present to receive the award on behalf of Senegal.

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