By Jackie Obiero, published on 11 Jun 2020

Great African leadership is often associated with politics. The likes of Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, Samora Machel just to mention a few. Their stories of courage, uniting their people, identifying a purpose and winning the day, are inspiring and memorable.  But what most people miss it the values that made these great African personalities that made their names so big in the African history books.

Let’s take, for example, the formation of OAU and the dispute that divided the continent into two, the “Progressive States” dubbed the Casablanca Bloc led by Ghana’s Kwame Nkurumah who wanted a federation of all African states, and the Monrovia Bloc led by Senegal’s Leopold Sedar Senghor that believed African unity should be a gradual process through economic cooperation. After a couple of years of stalemate, Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie called both teams to Addis Ababa to resolve the stalemate.

Today the OAU, now the African Union stands as a proud testament to that collective effort to pull Africans together. But it also stands as a legacy of Haile Selassie and the visionary leadership that not only contributed to the growth of Africa but also made Ethiopia a beacon of Pan Africanism.

In the 1950s Haile Selassie started Ethiopian Airlines as a way of connecting different parts of Ethiopia, which due to its topography were hard to access by road. That purpose grew to a continental mission to connect Africa with itself through reliable air travel, and later to connect the world to Africa.

The airline was not an instant success. It took time and patience and in some instances the airline flew some routes without passengers. Haile Selassie’s commitment to connect Africa remained resolute.  Today, Ethiopian Airlines is the continent’s largest and fastest-growing airline. It continues to serve his vision of providing the wider public with reliable air transport.

57 years after the first meeting of OAU member states, Africa has also begun to work more closely with itself and regional economic blocs have brought progress. The signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) is a testimony of a continued unity of purpose across Africa.

However, there is still more – indeed, a lot more – to be done, to make the Pan-African dream a reality. Until this day, there is more that divides us than unites us and even though we  share common histories, we don’t hear, we don’t own, our stories. Our media landscape is divided; we have lacked media platforms that speak for the African people. Platforms that ensure access to authentic, factual African stories. At least until now.

YEBO is changing how we are telling and owning our narrative as Africans. It is celebrating our heroes, our innovations and diversity in culture. Africa now has a way to “Know Africa and Be Africa”,  so don’t miss out

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