Press Releases

         10 September 2004

    Spirit of Amilcar Cabral’s Courageous Struggle for Freedom Should Be Applied to Africa’s Current Challenges, Says Secretary-General

    NEW YORK, 9 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the International Symposium on the eightieth birthday of Amilcar Cabral*, delivered by Ahmed Rhazaoui, Director of the United Nations Office in West Africa, and Deputy to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abduallah, in Praia, Cape Verde, 9 September:

    I commend the Amilcar Cabral Foundation for organizing this symposium on the eightieth birthday of a great son of Africa. In keeping alive Amilcar Cabral’s memory, you are reaffirming the importance of what he stood for, and its continuing relevance to the future of Africa.

    Today, Africa faces many challenges -- to bring an end to deadly conflicts that pit African against African; to build good governance in African countries; and to focus Africa’s energies on achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including those of reducing poverty and stemming the deadly spread of HIV/AIDS. The continent faces these challenges in a rapidly globalizing world -- one which can bring tremendous opportunities, but which, for those not appropriately equipped to meet its challenges, can be a threat to identity and to social and economic well-being.

    Africa’s tiny share of world trade is one measure among many that shows just how imbalanced the global order is -- and how difficult the struggle is that Africa faces. Internationally, much more needs to be done to enhance opportunities for developing countries, and to improve global governance. The United Nations works to advance that agenda every day. But no country should use the imbalance of the global order as an excuse not to tackle those things over which it does have control. That is why I am heartened by the efforts that have been made in recent years by Africans themselves to step forward and take charge of the destiny of their continent. The creation of the African Union, the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the increasingly positive role African leaders are playing in resolving crises and promoting good governance -- including through the African Peer Review Mechanism -- give hope that, aided by partners who keep their promises, Africans countries can find solutions to African problems.

    Amilcar Cabral would surely approve of this approach. His life reminds us of the importance of bold leadership, and of the need for all Africans to think independently and in accordance with their own reality.  As he wrote in 1949: “I live life intensely and my life experiences have given me direction, a road that I must follow, whatever the personal losses that I may suffer. That is my reason for living”. In celebrating Amilcar Cabral’s courageous struggle for freedom and dignity, let all Africans and friends of Africa apply his spirit to the challenges facing the continent today.

    I wish all participants the best for a successful symposium.

    *    Amilcar Cabral (1924-1973) was the leader of the independence struggle in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.

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