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Africa’s rich heritage ‘catalyst’ for transformation – UN Chief



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UN Secretary General, António Guterres, says Africa’s rich cultural and natural heritage are a catalyst for growth and transformation.

Guterres made the assertion at the opening of a three-day 2021 Africa Dialogue Series on Wednesday in New York.

He called for a right disposition to use the continent’s cultural and natural heritage to serve as a catalyst for growth and transformation.

According to him, the discussions in dialogue series highlight the importance of arts, culture and heritage in building the Africa that the world wants.

“We must not only defend diversity but invest in it; societies today are multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural,” he said.

To ensure that every community feels its culture and identity is being respected, Guterres said better ways must be found to “redress the ills of the past that have bred mistrust and division.”

He asserted that an emphasis on culture, heritage and shared values could help “build unity and common purpose.”

The UN chief said such “unity and common purpose” could also help the continent overcome disruption brought about by COVID and foster peaceful, sustainable development.

“We need to move towards sustainable economic growth that protects the environment, promotes human rights and strengthens the social contract,” he said.

The secretary general called for clear solidarity with the continent to enable her to cope with the impacts of COVID-19.

He said it was unacceptable that COVID-19 vaccines were still not fully available across Africa, citing it as the reason why Africa was “dramatically lagging” in shot distribution.

“I have been insisting with the G20 countries create a global vaccination plan to reach everybody everywhere,” he said.

Guterres said he was also concerned that while there was six per cent projected growth in the international economy, that of Africa was 3.2 per cent.

“It is absolutely essential that African countries receive the financial support they need at the present moment to protect their citizens and to be able to relaunch their economies.

The secretary general called for effective debt relief to be put at the disposal of African countries.

The Special Adviser on Africa, Cristina Duarte, urged participants to seize the opportunities provided by COVID-19 pandemic to change their mindset and approach Africa’s development with forward-thinking

She said the dialogue was an opportunity for an African cultural renaissance.

Daurte added that it would inculcate the spirit of Pan Africanism, tapping into Africa’s deep well of rich heritage and culture, to ensure that the continent’s destiny was built and owned by the people.

Cecilia Ologunagba

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