Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, expressed hope for a brighter future for Africa that is fast moving out of bad governance and corruption, shunning human rights violations that were typical of the post-colonial authoritarian regimes.
Chief Obasanjo made the declaration as one of the keynote speakers at the ‎first international conference of the African Studies Association of Africa, ‎ASAA, with the theme, ‘African Studies in the Twenty-First Century, Past, Present and Future’ held at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan yesterday.
The programme chaired by Professor Akin Mabogunje with Professor Toyin Falola as co-keynote speaker, also had in attendance many dignitaries among them the vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Isaac Adewole who was represented by the deputy vice chancellor (Administration), Professor Emilolorun Aiyelari, the deputy vice chancellor (Academics), Professor Gbemisola Oke, the director of the African Studies of the University of Ibadan, Professor Dele Layiwola, Professor Femi Osofisan, Dr. Sola Olorunfemi, Dr. Shenayon, among others.
Chief Obasanjo lamented the backwardness ‎associated with Africa, blaming it on “the stain and stench of slave trade, the cold war, poor governance which made some Africans to laud the good old days of colonialism, corruption and problem of human rights violations.”
Obasanjo, nevertheless, said that those vices which were commonplace during the reckless years of authoritarian regimes in Africa, had significantly reduced.
“The right to free speech, the right to express a different view point, the right to draw personal conclusions based on self-instituted research and to query certain cultural practices and beliefs are part of the huge liberty that the continent of Africa now boasts of.”
The Owu high chief who used himself as an example of tolerance and institution of free speech as a catalyst for engendering socio-political development, further stated, “If you visit the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, you will find thousands of archived newspaper comics and columns meant to spite and insult my person even as a sitting president. No individual or group of people was ever queried or jailed or repressed in expressing this freedom. Rather, I encouraged them because I derived fun and pleasure from the humour as I know who I am and nobody needs to tell me who and what I am not.”
The former president was however glad that the organisers had moved from the quest of Africanisation and national discourses into important advancements in theories and methods of African development.
“In all these, I am delighted that the so-called great European historians who professed that Africa has no history lived to realise that African history and culture had impacts and ramifications on other parts of the world including theirs.”
Professor Mabogunje and Falola reinforced the ideas postulated by Obasanjo, saying that it was high time Africans started to use their brain and potentials to develop ‎the continent with the philosophy that they have enviable cultural, traditional, political, and linguistic values that do not make them subservient to others.

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