Prominent African leaders and icons have been honoured at the maiden edition of the African Heritage Concert and Awards held in Kigali, Rwanda on Saturday, April 1, 2023.
According to the organisers – Heritage Times HT, the event was strategically packaged to celebrate and honour African greats who have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavor, and have made sustainable global impact in pacifying the image of Africa.
In his acceptance speech shortly after receiving the African Democracy and Peace Icon Award, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, appealed to African leaders who are privileged to hold public offices to become servants of the people, and not turn themselves into the “bosses of the people”.
“When you are called the executive president, our duty is to run our country properly, not to dehumanize human beings and make their lives difficult. What you should think is when you leave office, what will the world remember for? Will the world remember you for killing people? Will the world remember you for jailing people, or will the world remember you for destroying their systems?
“What people will remember you for is what should guide our decisions, and I believe if every leader should begin to think that when you leave office, one day you will be remembered one way or the other, positively or negatively,” Jonathan declared.
Similarly, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor, who was conferred with the African Humanitarian Award, declared that honouring the “best and brightest” minds in Africa is crucial for navigating the future of the continent, especially as it concerns leadership.
She reminded African leaders that the dream of achieving a robust and sustainable Africa rests heavily on their shoulders.
She added that celebrating Africans who have made impacts, will help change the negative narrative about Africa that is being propagated by the Western media.
Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the former President of Botswana who bagged the African Philanthropist Award, harped on the urgent need of African leaders to do the right thing and develop the continent.
While commending HT for putting together the event, he also noted that the future of Africa remains bright and great despite seeming challenges.
On his part, Professor Patrick Lumumba who picked up the Africa Advancement Award, worried that the African continent is in a crisis mode, and that if African leaders are not careful, the “continent will be eaten for launch once again.”
“I am energised by this award. I dedicate this award to Africans of goodwill, from whose eyes, the scales of ignorance have been removed. Growing Africa is an inter-generational struggle,” he added.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Chairman of Heritage Times HT, Mr Moses Siloko Siasia, noted that the choice of Rwanda as the venue for the event was strategic, given the country’s front role is setting the pace for growth and sustainable development in Africa.
While retrospecting on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, he advocated for unity and peace across Africa, adding that Africa has a prestigious place in the world stage.
He added that Africa lacks inspirational leaders, but expressed hope that the awards and special recognition is one of the surest ways in which mentors will be created.
Other awardees at the event were: Late John Magufuli, former President of Tanzania – African Icon Award (Posthumous); Victoria Nalongo Namusisi, Founder and Director of Bright Kids Uganda – African Humanitarian Award; Olumide Akpata, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association – African Legal Icon Award; Dr. Ifie Sekibo, Founder of Heritage Bank Plc – African Philanthropist Award; Engr Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) – Champion of Local Content Development in Africa Award.
Christelle Kwizera, Head Water Access, Rwanda – African Humanitarian Award; Fred Swaniker, Founder African Leadership University – African Humanitarian Award; Hamzat Lawal, CEO, Connected Development – African Humanitarian Award; and the Triplets Ghetto Kids of Uganda – African Entertainment Award, completed the pack.
H. E Amb. Suleiman Sani, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Rwanda, was also present at the event.