President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday hosted a historic meeting of world leaders on African renaissance as part of celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Addis Ababa.
The breakfast meeting held on the sidelines of the 32nd Summit of the African Union Heads of State and Government sought to inspire a global conversation geared towards reconciliation, reengagement and reconnection of all Africans and their descendants across the world.
The conversation also aims to mobilise Africans in the diaspora to reconnect with their heritage in recognition of their common ancestry.
President Uhuru said the conversation, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, aims at producing a new framework for engagement that brings together Africa and its descendants in the Americas, and across the world for the sake of inspiration, investment, collaboration and cooperation.
It is estimated that between 12 and 15 million African slaves were shipped to America. Out of this number, more than four million reportedly died on the high seas.
Uhuru said the Afro-conversation also seeks to renew ties between Africa and its descendants across the world.
He said all Africans have a common cultural heritage and historical experience that all citizens of the continent must understand to have a clearer insight of our desired destination
Besides the brutal and hellish conditions that African slaves went through, Uhuru said slavery laid the ground for colonialism, discrimination and racism.
"It undermined families and nations, and introduced the damaging and false hierarchy of racial superiority and inferiority that continues to afflict mankind," the President said.
He called for unity of purpose among Africans for the renaissance to succeed and ensure the continent retains its current status as a new frontier of global economic growth and prosperity.
"We who are alive today are the ancestors of those yet to be born. They will commune with us, just like we can prayerfully reach back to those who survived the Middle Passage. We need, therefore, to think like ancestors so that we can shape a bright future for our descendants," he said.
"For this upward surge to be sustained for generations to come demands that we be united,” Uhuru said
He appealed to the diaspora population to fully participate in the new revival and revitalisation of Africa
Uhuru irrespective of their citizenship and nationality, Africans in the diaspora constitute the sixth region of the AU
"This includes the descendants of Africa in the Caribbean, North and South America. We are one and must find paths to reconnect and reengage with one another," he said.
Uhuru called for practical steps and the full engagement of the AU Commission to ensure workable and clear programmes are put in place to actualise the new initiative.
He also said the initiative should to be embedded in the legal and institutional frameworks of respective African states and the AUC.
Leaders who spoke at the meeting termed the initiative as historic and thanked President Uhuru for bringing the matter back to the table after it was first mooted by the founding fathers of African states in the 1950s and 1960s.
Among the presidents who lauded Uhuru included Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Hage Geingob (Namibia) and newly elected DRC Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi.
Other speakers were former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Dr Jendayi Frazer and AU Special Envoy for Infrastructure Development Raila Odinga.
Leaders shared their perspectives on African renaissance and pledged their support for the new initiative.
African renaissance is a concept born in mid-1940's and is premised on an understanding that for the continent to overcome challenges facing it, its people must come together in unity of purpose.