U.S. Delegation Travels to Senegal for 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations and Unveiling of the African Renaissance Monument

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Senegalese celebrationA U.S. delegation that includes members of the Black press, elected officials, performing artists and representatives of such organizations as the NAACP and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition will be in Senegal from April 2 to April 4 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that country’s independence from France and the dedication of the 150-foot-high African Renaissance Monument. The delegation will join local Senegalese, as well as heads of state, artists and community leaders from the African Diaspora for two days of cultural performances, symposia, special exhibitions and parades.

“It is the destiny of Africa, after four centuries of incomprehensible conflict and turmoil, to now become a continent united by the best of human achievement, cultural excellence, prosperity, security, peace and progress,” said Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade, the official host of the U.S. delegation. 

A celebration of history, arts and culture is at the top of the agenda for the festivities. Events will also focus on the future of Africa, with emphasis on ways for African states to work together to foster and support the economic, cultural, social and political wellbeing of the continent. Those discussions will build on the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations’ platform for ending poverty and hunger, achieving universal education and gender equality, improving child and maternal health, drastically reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability and creating a global partnership for development by 2015.

 “I am sure that the historic visit by this prestigious American delegation will strengthen ties between the United States and Africa and reinforce African efforts for sustainable human development, bearing in mind the efforts of UNAIDS and its partners in working to reverse the AIDS epidemic,” said Djibril Diallo, Ph.D., senior advisor to the executive director of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. Diallo also chairs the U.S. Leadership Committee for the World Festival of Black Arts (FESMAN) 2010, which organized the U.S. delegation. 

The delegation, which includes TNJ Executive Editor Rosalind McLymont, will visit Gorée Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its link to the transatlantic slave trade. A colloquium of African writers and intellectuals on April 3 will explore the enormous promise of the African Renaissance, highlighting the role of art and cultural in promoting human development. The African Renaissance Monument will be inaugurated later in the day in an event centered on the theme of a United States of Africa, an objective supported by President Wade and endorsed by the African Union for realization in 2017. The man, woman and child depicted in the monument symbolize the strength and promise of an Africa that will grow, flourish and experience a renaissance of culture, economic prowess, innovation and achievement. President Wade will lead a dialogue on the African Diaspora, linking Africa, North America and Europe, with NAACP CEO and President Benjamin Todd Jealous representing North America.

April 4 will be devoted to the commemoration of Senegal’s 50 years of independence. The ideals expressed in the two-day celebrations will be reflected in FESMAN 2010, which is scheduled for December in Senegal, Diallo said.