All roads led to the Sarova Panafric on 1st September on the occasion of the East African Food Festival that was attended by people from diverse professions and nationalities.
Mr. David Gichuru (Manager, Panafric Hotel) stated that the hotel was moving away from the dictionary and encyclopedia definitions of a hotel, to vibrancy and contest of ideas based not just on accommodation, food and beverage, but on social and cultural ideas.
Recognizing that Africa has multi-cultural diversity, he urged East Africans to shun their country mentality and think regionally.
“Our challenge as a people is nurturing our diverse cultures into a strength that will bring harmony, unity and love. It is how to create trading and industrial blocks in our region,” he said.
Quoting Napoleon Bonaparte, he said that East Africa should “take time to deliberate, but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go.”
Hon. Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Minister for Trade and Industry urged the three East African governments to expose the rich and cultural diversity of East Africa to their citizens as a way of gluing the region together. Quoting retired President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, who said “tembeleaneni muone mapishi mapya” (travel and you’ll sample varieties of food), he decried regional barriers and urged the Tanzanian trade Minister to shun doublespeak.
The Minister for East Africa Community, Hon. John Koech expressed delight in the Panafric initiative to unite East Africans.
“We in the EAC are fascinated when we hear somebody talking in our name. One day Jesus’ disciples came to him accusing some people they had come across, casting out demons in his name. Jesus told them, if they were doing so in my name, they are for us. So, those who are talking in various ways in our name, through singing; dancing and eating are with us and for us,” said Koech.
He wondered why Africa has a lot of food yet people go hungry. The big problem in Africa he said, is that people are to choosy and have labeled several stuff as food and others non-food.
“When Kenyans eat potatoes instead of ‘Ugali’ and Ugandans eat rice instead of ‘Matoke,’ they say that they have not eaten,” the Minister said.
Mr. Koech said that Africa has enough resources to steer the continent into development. It only needs the resolve to exploit the resources and walk the talk.
Among those who attended the event were the Permanent Secretary for EAC Mr. Ole Nkuraiya, Hon. Rose Waruhiu, Member East Africa Legislative Assembly, Daniel Churaba, Ambassador for Argentina, Lawrence Reed (President - Mackinac Center for Public Policy) and Joseph Lehman (Vice President – Mackinac Centre for Public Policy) among others.
By Josephat Juma
Mr. Juma is an African Executive Writer
Comment on this article!