Preserving African history formed part of the discussions at the ongoing 30th annual meetings of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Accra Ghana, as speakers see this a critical factor in the journey to prosperity. 

The speakers who spoke on ‘Shape the Future on the Platform of Lessons from History – Reflections from Africa and the Caribean’ and ‘The Journey to Prosperity’, during joined plenary sessions were Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, and Chairman of the Intra-African Trade Fair Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Tony Elumelu, chairman, UBA Group/Heirs Holdings founder and Ralph Everard Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and Grenadines. 

Obasanjo said African history is interwoven and cannot be separated from the history of Africans in Diaspora, adding that they are together. 

“The good and bad in our history must be taken together, we cannot separate them. One of the things that we have not done too well in the past is that we have not taken our history as we should take it, because history is like memory,’’ he said. 

He said history and experience work together to give wisdom and they are meant to inform the present and to guide Africans into the future. 

“Archaeologists and Anthropologists have told us that human life actually began here in Africa. So all of us as human beings, Africa is our home. If that is the case, I am on the land or continent where human life began. 

“If we get that right and we progress from there, what are the things we learn from history to inform our present and guide our future. First we are the race that has suffered most in the history of a man. We have suffered from slavery, hatred, colonialism, neo-colonialism and we have been suffering even today,” Obasanjo said. 

Oramah said, “We use our history to shape our vision for tomorrow. I look at history as a whole compass of commitment and because that is the way we view history all over and across the bank, what has happened in Afreximbank is that we have had transitions that have built on the successes of the previous. 

“I am the third president of the bank, but some of the things I am doing now were conceived by the past presidents. So we recognised that we have a chain that the development process should continue and to transform structurally, we need time. Continuity is important. As I complete my time, we are also making sure that it continues,” he said. 

Speaking further, Oramah said, “We need to have an institutional memory to preserve some of the key things that are driving us.” 

As one of the outstanding and successful entrepreneurs from Africa, Elumelu spoke on the key ingredients that have contributed to his career and experience. 

He said, “For me, it is a humble beginning. I think I see opportunities where maybe some don’t. I think I see potential where some don’t. I see my success not being a hindrance to other people’s success and I believe that my success should be a catalyst for others to succeed.” 

“I have had my setbacks and I see those setbacks as opportunities to learn, like learning in resilience, learning in patience, learning in tenacity and that is why I support young ones,” Elumelu said. 


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