Today South Africa commemorates Human Rights Day. The country’s Bill of Rights enshrines everyone’s right to life, equality and human dignity. We are reminded for example, of the following:
- All persons have a right to citizenship and security.
- All persons have a right to privacy and to exercise political rights; all have a right to access to information and just administration action.
- All have a right to freedom of movement and residence and of trade, occupation and profession.
- Protected rights include a healthy environment; housing, health care, food, water and social security.
In charting the course for “The Africa We Want” under the aspirations of Agenda 2063, Africa’s continental strategy for building a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny, let us ensure that no one gets left behind as we celebrate Human Rights Day in South Africa.
Amongst others for example, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa calls for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Everybody is called upon to commit to achieving the elimination of harmful cultural and traditional practices and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes, or on stereotyped roles for women and men.
The founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now transformed into the African Union, was based on political freedom for the whole of Africa, under the premise that all human beings are equal, deserving of self-rule and governance. Indeed, the rest of the continent did not rest until South Africa also attained its political freedom.
The events of Sharpeville in 1960, should therefore remind us that human rights, not only in South Africa, but indeed the world over, often come at a high cost. Let us therefore not forget that human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. Let us then stand together and protect the rights and liberties of ALL African citizens.
Message from Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO, NEPAD Agency