The flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has charged the current generation of African youth to help ensure that the promise of prosperity that was to have come with freedom materialises for the mass of the African people.
According to him, though the African continent might have achieved political liberation, and liberal democratic governments may be in place in many parts of the continent, the struggle for rapid economic development is very far from being won.
The NPP flagbearer bemoaned the fact that, whilst hundreds of millions of Asians are currently being taken out of poverty, because of successful governance, hundreds of millions of Africans, living on the world’s richest continent, continue to wallow in abject poverty as a result of poor governance.
“It is time, therefore, for the current generation to rise to meet the challenges of today. You have to help banish the disgraceful spectre of young Africans dying in the Mediterranean, seeking greener pastures in Europe,” he said.
“Your generation has to ensure the fulfilment of the statement, made almost 70 years ago in 1949 to the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly by Joseph Boakye Danquah, the father of modern Ghanaian nationalism, that ‘the two things go together, economic freedom and political freedom. And we must have the two together in this very age, and in the shortest possible time’”.
Nana Akufo-Addo made this known, on Thursday, when he delivered the keynote address at the 2016 graduation ceremony and acceptance speech on the award of an Honourary Doctor of Law Degree conferred on him by the prestigious University of Fort Hare, one of the first and oldest institutions of higher learning on the African continent.
Highlighting the importance of the work of his compatriot, Kwame Nkrumah, the NPP flagbearer stressed that African unity, through the political and economic union of the continent, remains the most effective context within which to maximise the collective power of the African people, and achieve the continent’s full potential.
“Others have done so in America, in Europe and in Asia. We must do the same in Africa. We cannot continue to be either the pawns or the victims of history. We have a huge, unique contribution to make to the growth of world civilisation. It is time for us to step forward,” he added.
Describing the conferment of the doctorate degree by the University on him as an extraordinary experience, especially as it coincided with the centenary celebrations of this famed university, the NPP flagbearer indicated that he was “so proud to be part of such a seminal moment.”
Africa’s progress, he said, will be decided by the quality of, amongst others, her entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, thinkers, researchers, industrialists, farmers, workers, professionals, artists, public servants and political leaders.
According to Akufo-Addo, the men and women who passed through the gates of Fort Hare, particularly in its early years, believed in themselves and in the African race, when all around them said they counted for nothing.
“Fort Hare created the atmosphere that challenged the status quo of the time. Fort Hare told the young people, who came to study here, that they had the same capabilities as every other young person of every colour, language or race. This is the institution that moulded the thinking and values of many of the great leaders of our continent,” he added.
With the likes of Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Desmond Tutu, Oliver Tambo and Robert Sobukwe amongst a tall list of notable alumni from the University, the NPP flagbearer stated that “the sky should be the limit for your generation, for having an education from Fort Hare. It means you agree to be judged by the exacting standards set by the predecessors. It means you can never let your guard down whenever or wherever you are. If you are aiming, for instance, to go into government, you will be measured by the Mandela standard; anything short of that will be interpreted as letting the side down.”
Nana Akufo-Addo thanked the University for the honour done him, reiterating that “I am grateful that you have accepted me into this very honourable and respectable group. I promise I will do my best all the time to keep up the standards and never let the side down.”
The occasion also saw the inauguration and investiture of the new Chancellor of the University, the highly respected statesman and diplomat, Dr. Rev. Mahkenkesi Stofile. A total of 2,845 students graduated at the ceremony.
Nana Akufo-Addo was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife, Rebecca Akufo-Addo; daughter, Edwina Akufo-Addo; brother, Edward Akufo-Addo; Executive Assistant, Saratu Atta; Political Assistant; Francis Asenso Boakye; Press Secretary, Eugene Arhin; NPP Director of International Relations, Charles Owiredu; and members of the Ghanaian community resident in East London.