President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said the real barrier to African development and prosperity is identity, when it becomes more important than the commitment to a shared economic vision.
Museveni delivered his remarks in a speech during the closing ceremonies of the Sudan National Dialogue Conference, held at National Friendship Hall in Khartoum on Monday night.
“I am this, I am that. I am an Arab, I am an African, I am a Muslim, I am a Christian, I am pagan. So what if you’re that?” Museveni said. “Ask yourself the next question; how will you achieve prosperity? Will identity give you prosperity? Will it take your children to school, build a better house, defeat poverty?”
Identity is important, but not as important as the region’s goals or those of the continent, he said in a speech in which Museveni emphasized his decades of political experience in African affairs. It’s not the first time the Ugandan president has made the observation on unity, which he believes is key to a flourishing Africa.
He confirmed that Uganda and Sudan have resolved many of their own disputes, noting that “some Sudanese” have helped to facilitate that understanding, a reference the Sudan Tribune said was a nod to Najwa Gadah Aldam, a Sudanese U.N. employee in Kampala who worked toward that reconciliation. Museveni also called on Sudan’s opposition groups, so often at the heart of the two leaders’ differences, to join President Omar al-Bashir in the work to secure peace and unity.
Museveni joined other heads of state who attended the conference, including President Idriss Deby of Chad, Egyptian leader Fatah Al-Sisi and Mauritania’s Mohammed Abdul-Aziz. Representatives of Russia, China, the Arab League and the African Union also attended.
Image: President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda