'no turning back now for africa'

Eric Naki

Africa is on the threshold of an African renaissance and transformation. And there is no turning back, according to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically-elected woman head of state, delivered the sixth Nelson Mandela Annual lecture in Kliptown, Soweto, on Saturday.

Bill Clinton did so in 2003, Desmond Tutu in 2004, Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Mathaari in 2005, Thabo Mbeki in 2006 and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan last year.

"The African Renaissance is at hand, within reach," Sirleaf said. "It is embedded in the honest and seeking minds of the young, the professionals, the activists, the believers on our continent.

"Difficulties remain, no doubt, trouble spots abound for sure and many seek to discredit this process, but we have reached the threshold and there is no turning back from the irreversible transformation."

Sirleaf said as part of transformation Africa must move from dream to reality, do away with the legacy of patronage, corruption, lawlessness and underdevelopment. She said for transformation to be realised in Africa three things had to take place - strong economic management, resolution of the debt crisis and a shift to democratic and accountable governance.

She said Africa's threedecade-old debt crisis was worsened by government mismanagement. The debtors themselves added to the problem by lending too large amounts of money to unaccountable dictators who misused and misappropriated those funds.

She called on Africans to speak up against injustice everywhere, including Zimbabwe.

"In that Africa all Africans have a responsibility to our collective future.

"It is therefore my and our responsibility to speak out against injustice."

During the African Union summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, Sirleaf called for a collective denunciation of the recent Zimbabwean run-off election.