RENOWNED South African cleric and activist, Archbishop (Emeritus) Desmond Tutu, has called on African leaders to make a conscious effort to 'recover' the greatness of the continent, saying, "let us show the world what is distinctively African."
He lamented that the continent, which, for a very long time, used to be a refuge for people fleeing persecution in other parts of the world, had now become a haven of conflict and poverty, and it was time Africa highlighted its inter-dependence.
Archbishop Tutu made the call when he met with Vice-President John Mahama at the Castle, Osu in Accra yesterday.
Accompanied by his wife, Mormaligo and a host of other dignitaries, Archbishop Tutu, famous for his active involvement in the struggle against apartheid, is in the country for a "Semester at Sea" project with a ship called the 'Explorer,' in which over 600 youth from around the world are learning from their various cultures and the philosophies of life.
Scheduled to retire from public activities in October, Archbishop Tutu is billed to receive the 'Global Icon' award from the Millennium Excellence Award in Ghana in December, for his active defence of human rights, using his high profile to campaign for the oppressed, and his work in HIV/AIDS and TB prevention.
Archbishop Tutu lauded Ghana for the peaceful transition from one government to the other, saying, it was a sigh of relief to the continent since some African leaders wanted to be President for life, thus creating a negative image about the continent.
He also expressed appreciation to the country for the role it played in supporting South Africa’s fight against Apartheid even when it put extraordinary pressure on its limited resources. The support, he said, demonstrated the African principle of sharing the little it has.
The Archbishop condemned the recent xenophobic tendencies perpetrated by some South Africans against foreigners, saying, that after the tremendous support offered by Africa to it during its liberation struggle, "we should have been the last people to have demonstrated such egregious example of ingratitude."
Responding, Vice-President John Mahama noted that despite the negative image about the continent, it had made a sharp u-turn in the last decade and would soon be the next frontier to forge a new renaissance in the world, citing its rich resources.
"Many African countries are now holding regular elections and a lot of the conflicts are beginning to become a thing of the past. There have been a new dimension in the past decades..and Africa is growing positively."
He said the continent was endowed with extreme arable land to feed itself and stressed the need for African countries to invest in agriculture where the majority of its peoples were engaged in.
Vice-President Mahama lauded Archbishop Tutu for blazing the trail by speaking up against oppression, noting that it was not easy for one to stand up for truth and justice. "We very much appreciate it and take inspiration from you."