Seychelles President James Michel’s message on the occasion of Africa Day 2015:
Today, on May 25, 2015, Seychelles joins the rest of the world in celebrating Africa Day.
Today, we look not at our insularity and the ocean that physically separates us from the mother continent, but rather, at the rich cultural heritage and values that make us part of Africa.
Africa Day is an occasion for us to celebrate our African identity and heritage and for us to take pride in who we are as a people. It is also an opportunity for us to take stock of how far we have come, and to contemplate where we want to go.
In January of this year, two years after celebrating the 50th anniversary of OAU/AU, African leaders endorsed Africa Agenda 2063, which is not just a document noting our aspirations, but a framework which will guide the development of Africa for the next 50 years.
Africa Agenda 2063 emphasizes a development that is sustainable and inclusive, and it is only fitting that the theme that the African Union has adopted for this year’s celebration highlights the empowerment of women. As the age-old adage goes: “teach a girl, educate a nation.” For far too long, African women and girls have been the victims of discrimination. I am proud today to say that Africa is committed to move forward and give African women and girls the place and the status that they deserve.
Africa has its challenges. As a continent, we will not manage to meet all of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by September 2015, and we continue to have difficulties with the provision of basic needs such as food, water and sanitation.
Africa should , however, not lose sight of the fact that big strides have been taken and development have been achieved, especially noting that as a continent, we started off very far from the end goals.
The adoption of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals later this year will provide Africa with the opportunity to continue along its path of development and bridge the gaps where they still exist.
Today, let us celebrate Africa’s many strengths, ranging from the serene beauty of its islands to its snow-capped mountain peaks, from the wildness of its savannas to its calm beaches, and from its vast deserts to its rich forests. Let us celebrate the African culture, music and cuisine which is exported to and appreciated by the rest of the world. Let us celebrate the values of unity that Africa upholds as a continent.
Let us celebrate Africa.
Happy Africa Day.
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .