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OAU Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary With Music, Caribbean Thinking

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Addis Ababa, May 25 (Prensa Latina) A rhythmic reggae of Peter Tosh and evocations to the mythical Bob Marley gave a Caribbean tone to the celebration today of the Africa Day, marked by a call for unity between the Diaspora and the continent.

 

The president of the African Union Commission (AU), Nkoosazana Dlamini Zuma, seemed to have been dancing from his seat, as several head of States and governments did, and other guests when the "African" song, from Tosh, accompanied former Jamaican Prime minister Percival James Patterson on the podium.

Patterson, along with the current Jamaican head of government, Portia Simpson, and President of the Cuban Parliament, Esteban Lazo, were the only representatives of the Caribbean attending a panel on Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance at the AU headquarters in this Ethiopian capital.

'No matter where you come from, while you're black, you're African / no matter your nationality, you have acquired the identity of an African', says in the opening stanza of the rhythmical reggae heard in the hall where was also the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, for Latin America.

Opening the event, Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn spoke of "a great leap forward in the pan-African quest for freedom, independence and unity".

AU head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma warned that conflicts could be silenced only by "solidarity and unity".

The OAU, which became the African Union (AU) in 2002, had its origins in the struggle for decolonisation.

It was founded in Addis Ababa in 1963, the venue chosen to mark the anniversary 50 years on.

But while its successor has adopted a policy of seeking African solutions to internal problems, it has been criticised for failing to respond quickly enough when rebels seized power in Mali in 2012.

However, the AU has sent peacekeepers to Burundi and Darfur and has deployed an intervention force in Somalia.

Among the dignitaries attending Saturday's ceremony was US Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned Nigeria's armed forces to avoid human rights abuses in their campaign against Islamist extremists.

While defending Nigeria's right to crack down on militant group Boko Haram, Mr Kerry said "one person's atrocities do not excuse another's".

On Friday, AU foreign ministers backed a request from Kenya to have crimes against humanity cases, brought against the president and vice president by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, referred back to Nairobi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, both deny allegations of orchestrating violence after the disputed 2007 election.

On the sidelines of the summit, Brazilian officials said the country would cancel or restructure almost $900m (£600m) worth of debt with Africa.

Brazil's trade with African countries has increased fivefold since 2002.

Latin America's economic powerhouse has also opened 19 new embassies in Africa in the last decade.