First Republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda has called on the African Union-AU to continue fighting for the development of the continent.
Dr Kaunda says 50 years on, the AU has made great strides, faced short comings and met great challenges in addressing problems on the continent.
He said the AU still has huge challenges in Africa which need to be addressed.
“50 years is a time for renaissance, renewal, it is for freedom and rededication” Dr Kaunda said.
Dr Kaunda said this during the OAU /AU celebrations held at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa ,Ethiopia yesterday.
He noted that it is important that the AU concerns itself with current global concerns like climate change and environmental issues.
“We are an integral part of humanity, we must be able to contribute towards solving conflicts in various parts of the world, all conflicts, were ever it occurs still affect us,’’ said Dr Kaunda.
He explained that during the early years of independence, the African continent was greatly affected by the Cold war in Eastern and Western political blocks.
Dr Kaunda said the OAU, despite many challenges managed to contribute to the resolutions of these conflicts through international organisations like the Commonwealth and the Non- Aligned Movement.
He said using this approach, Africa became a major voice on international issues.
The former President has however noted that 50 years ago, the continent did not have the challenge of HIV/AIDS, adding that though the continent has made advances in handling the pandemic, it is still a challenge in Africa and needs to be conquered.
Dr Kaunda also acknowledged the contribution that his late wife Betty Kaunda rendered for him to be where he was yesterday.
Dr Kaunda sang a song dedicated to Mama Betty who died last year.
And speaking during the opening ceremony African Union Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma paid tribute to the founding fathers of the OAU for their wisedom and foresight in laying the foundation for unity and solidarity.
Dr Zuma said the Organisation of African Unity then exhibited a spirit of internationalism as it championed the African course and supported the struggles of oppressed people .
“we are therefore pleased to celebrate with all our friends from across the globe and continue to reinforce our solidarity and cooperation, ” Dr Zuma noted.
Dr Zuma said the 50th anniversary is a beacon of the spirit if internationalism, solidarity and cooperation.
“ As we start the journey for the next 50 years , we need to be clear about the journey before us, to educate our population, skill them, ensure healthy bodies and minds, modernize and expand Africa’s infrastructure to agriculture and agro business so that we can feed ourselves and the world,” noted Dr Zuma.
The celebrations which were attended by several Heads of States and government representatives including President Michael Sata, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and members of the public was characterized by dance and poetry.