• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Preserving Africa’s Legacy: ‘African Heritage Awards 2024’ honours top African achievers

Africa’s heritage is not just a collection of artefacts or historical sites; it is a living, breathing testament to the richness and diversity of our continent. It is the stories of our ancestors, the wisdom of our elders, and the aspirations of our youth. It is the rhythm of our music, the taste of our cuisine, and the colours of our art. It is the resilience of our people in the face of adversity, the ingenuity of our innovators, and the warmth of our hospitality.

Despite its significance, Africa’s heritage is under threat. Globalization, conflict, neglect, inter-ethnic disputes, and indifference are some of all contributing to the erosion of our cultural identity. However, to preserve Africa’s heritage for future generations, decisive and collective action is imperative.

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In the bid to achieve this, Heritage Times organised the second edition of the African Heritage Awards (AHA) 2024, held recently in Lagos. The awards aimed to honour African achievers who have made significant contributions to the advancement of humanity.

Moses Siloko Siasia, chief Host and chairman of Heritage Times (HT), in his opening remarks, described the event as a ceremony that celebrates influential Africans creating sustainable impacts that uplift others and entrepreneurs driving Africa towards greatness.

“The African Heritage Awards celebrates and recognises outstanding global accomplishments of Africans within the continent and in the Diaspora, across various fields such as Business, Politics, Philanthropy, Entertainment & Arts, Culture, Science & Technology, and Social Innovation,” he said.

Speaking further, Siasia highlighted the need for Africa to realise its potential, especially in human resources, stating that the continent can be the solution the world needs. “We have huge deposits of resources. Not just mineral resources or hydrocarbons and gas that we enjoy, the best resources that we have are human resources,” he said. “Our people excel anywhere in the world. So we must not think less of ourselves as Africans. We must take charge; we must realize that we have the potential to be the solution the world needs.”

He urged African leaders to pursue progress with urgency and purpose, as the world rapidly advances in technological, economic, and geopolitical realms. “As leaders of Africa, we must embrace these realities and adapt our policies and institutions accordingly,” Siasia continued. “We must invest in education and skills training to equip our people for the jobs of the future. We must promote innovation and entrepreneurship to unleash the creative potential of our youth. We must strengthen our institutions of governance and uphold the rule of law to create an environment conducive to investment and economic growth.”

Also at the event, former presidents John Dramani Mahama of Ghana and Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana emphasized the importance of unity and progress for Africa’s development during a panel session themed: ‘Shaping Africa’s Path To Prosperity’.

Mahama highlighted the importance of African countries providing their citizens with the dividends of democracy at a fast pace, given the continent’s rapidly growing youthful population. “Africa does not have the opportunities that advanced countries had in the past. There’s nobody to colonize, there is nobody to enslave; all those things gave them the edge in their trajectory towards development,” he said. “Our founding fathers, like Kwame Nkrumah, had wanted the African continent to come out of independence as one nation, but unfortunately, we lost that opportunity and became 54 different countries, flags, anthems, and markets. This has constituted trade tariffs and other barriers.”

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He also advocated for the removal of hindrances like Visa restrictions to foster international cooperation and economic prosperity across Africa.

On his part, Khama lamented that despite Africa’s abundant human and natural resources, the continent has not transitioned into economic prosperity. He attributed this to corruption and bad leadership, calling for leaders who prioritize the needs of their people over personal gain.

“My observation is that those politicians who fail to put the interests and needs of their people first are a cause for backwardness,” Khama added. “We need leaders who are humble enough to understand that their role is simply to be of service to their people. The media has for the longest time peddled only a negative narrative about the African continent, and we all have a responsibility to change that.”

Among the distinguished Africans awarded at the African Heritage Awards 2024 were Jayne Onwumere, CEO of PWAN Group (African Humanitarian Award), and Africans Rising Movement (African Advancement Award for Social Justice and Advocacy).

While the 2024 edition showcased the best of Africa and aimed to change the negative narrative often associated with the continent, the third edition is slated for Marrakesh, Morocco, next year, continuing its mission to celebrate African greatness and promote African excellence.