OAU-AU’s 60th anniversary: Day Morocco displayed its pan-African credentials

On Thursday, May 25, 2023, the 55 member countries making up the African Union (AU), formerly Organisation of African Unity (OAU), rolled out the drums to celebrate Africa Day.

May 25 every year is marked to commemorate the foundation of the continental body. This year’s celebration was considered special as it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the AU which was established on 25 May 1963.

For the Kingdom of Morocco, the Africa Day was an opportunity to remind the world of its pan-African credentials as a founding member, particularly the role it played in the struggle for African independence and how it supported liberation movements for the emancipation of the people.

To mark the day, therefore, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates Nasser Bourita led the historic celebration at the Foreign Affairs ministry in Rabat, the country’s capital.

The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates Nasser Bourita addresses diplomats during the occasion

At the event, which was well attended by diplomats, journalists and students among others, Mr Bourita explained how, under the impetus of King Mohammed VI, Morocco made African integration and South-South cooperation the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

He said “our conception of Africa’s future lies at the heart of the Vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, recalled at the 29th Summit of Heads of State of the African Union”, noting that “since time immemorial, it is through its African depth that Morocco breathes, radiates and lives its multiple identity, at once multicultural, multi-faith and trans-regional”.

The minister added that the King “has cherished these relations more than anyone else”, stressing that the “Sovereign has sublimated them, by instilling, in the continuity of the work of His Glorious Ancestors, a new dynamic with brotherly African countries, a dynamic that establishes the Kingdom as a committed partner, mobilized and determined to meet the challenges of peace, security and development, throughout Africa.”

Under the leadership of the King, Morocco is also contributing all its energy, mobilizing all its efforts and sharing its know-how, in the service of structuring projects, said Bourita, citing, in this respect, the Africa/Atlantic gas pipeline project, linking Nigeria and Morocco through the countries of West Africa, as well as the system of accessible and adapted fertilizers set up by the Kingdom to meet the needs of African farmers, and which carries the promise of better yields and greater food security.

“Supporting each other, unlocking the enormous potential of our Continent, and thus accelerating the sustainable growth and inclusive development of African economies: this is how we see the continuum between independence and development,” he noted.

The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates Nasser Bourita leads diplomats round photos on display at the event

“In a global context shaken by crises – political, economic, health and ecological – our African continent can no longer afford to be a mirror that reflects back to the world the image of its challenges. It must reflect the promise it makes to the world”, emphasized Bourita.

He added that, under the leadership of the King, Morocco has indeed been working hard to get things moving on the Afican continent, taking a practical approach far removed from the logic of “diplomatic coups” and demagogic one-upmanship..

Many observers describe Morocco’s renewed commitment to Africa’s unity as a diplomatic move to minimise the impact of its 33-year absence (Morocco left the union in 1984 before it rejoined in 2017), which prevented it from taking part in the refounding of the organization from OAU to AU in 2001.

But today, in accordance with the strategic leadership and vision of King Mohammed VI, Morocco has continuously shown an unwavering commitment to Africa’s development, and has prioritised the need for a united continent. 

Dateline Nigeria, one of the two Nigerian newspapers represented at the event, reports that the High Commissioner to Former Resistance fighters and Former Members of the Liberation Army, the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps and the Cameroon ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco.Mouhamadou Youssifou both harped on African unity.

The Ambassador of the Union of the Comoros Islands (Presidency of the AU) in his speech called for a minute silence in remembrance of the union’s founding members, even as he harped on the need for AU Member States to recommit themselves to the ideals of the body.

Also to mark the day, there was a photo exhibition on Morocco’s diplomatic strides, and the projection of a documentary titled “Morocco and the liberation movements in Africa”. 

Some African leaders who found shelter in Morocco during the course of their struggle include Amilcar Cabral (Guinea-Bissau), Aristides Pereira (Cape Verde), Moussa Traore (Mali), Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane (Mozambique), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Agostinho Neto (Angola), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Samora Machel (Mozambique), John Garang (South Sudan), and Joshua Nkomo (Zimbabwe).

Subsequently, the foreign affairs minister took part in some festivities at the famous Théâtre Mohammed V, including cultural dance and display by African countries. There was also food exhibition by African countries, featuring various dishes peculiar to countries, which highlight the food products of the five regions of the African continent.

The exhibition was described as a means of placing emphasis on ways to build resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent and to strengthen agri-food, health and social systems for accelerated human, social and economic development.

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