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The future belongs to Africa

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Hello Everybody,

When I learnt that the AllAfrica Media Leaders Summit had decided to honour me with a Lifetime Achievement Award, I was both flabbergasted and delighted.

Flabbergasted because it is usually us publishers who hand out awards to brilliant, famous personalities rather than receive them.

Despite the myth of all-powerful media tycoons, much favoured in fiction, most of us work often thanklessly behind the scenes, ensuring that deadlines are met, teams kept happy and the bills are paid.

Our role is to hunt out, employ and nurture Africa’s creative talent – the writers, the analysts, the critics, the designers, the artists, the cartoonists and bring them together with editors, sub-editors, proof readers, printers and distributors so that the best thinking in Africa reaches as far as possible to every corner of our beloved continent.

Some of you may recall a time during the colonial period when freedom and development did not exist for Africans.

Most of our thinking was done for us by colonial masters, our story was told by colonial writers, our world was described by colonial thinkers.

All human progress is the result of fresh ideas made real. Our ideas were immediately squashed and hardly ever given the oxygen of life through publication for the masses.

It was an act of rebellion against this attitude that  Béchir Ben Yahmed, some good friends and I set ourselves to overturn. The time has come to change the status quo and give a PanAfrican voice to our continent.

We decided to take back our own narrative and tell our own stories in our own words.

This is what I have done all my life with the help of two generations of excellent professionals, not only the best journalists, but  the best in all departments of publishing: advertising , marketing , sales , production or accounting….  And  it is still work in progress with the wonderful flowering of African journalistic and professional talent and the rivers of ideas and concepts that have flowed since.

The struggle for who gets to tell Africa’s story goes on , and  I believe that we are winning.

Organisations such as AllAfrica, led by my younger brother Mahtar – whose company has organised this wonderful event –  are scoring victory after victory.

My own organisation, IC Publications, now in the capable hands of my son, Omar, is pushing towards new horizons in light of the enormous technological advances that are turning the global media world upside down.

New technology has provided us with even more powerful tools to generate and processes ideas and concepts. There is a lot more to come from our younger generations to whom we are now passing the baton.

As I wind down this speech, I am struck by the co-incidence that my home country – Tunisia, was know as Afriqiya in ancient times and gave the continent its name.

No wonder then that I love Africa, I am proud to be an African and of all the achievements this great continent has made over the past 60 years.

I am convinced that the future belongs to Africa.

Only 40 years ago, China and The East were considered poor countries desperate for aid – today they are driving the global economy.

Africa by comparison, has vastly more human and natural resources and the momentum of history is on our side – so yes, this century belongs to us.

Some people say that there are many Africas. I disagree. There is only Africa and we are all Africans – whatever our races, languages, religions or nationalities. Everywhere I go in Africa ; I am happy and at home.

Do not forget that our human species began in Africa before spreading all over the globe. So deep down everybody has an African origin.

By accepting this award, I am grateful to all the members of IC Publications, past and present, who have helped to build our publishing group. This award goes to them all

A final word of gratitude goes to the love of my life, Emena, who has been with me for over 60 years.

God bless you all and thank you. 

Click here to watch a video message from Afif Ben Yedder after receiving his award.

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