The African Union (AU) has finally issued the first copies of the African passport, a flagship project of Africa’s Agenda 2063 with the view to facilitate free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent – in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development.
The passport are currently issued to Heads of States and diplomats and is believed to have high security features. The first recipients were Chairperson of the African Union, Idris Deby Itno and Rwandan president Paul Kagame.
The document has five languages used for inscriptions on it, English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Swahili.
The African Union logo is sandwiched between two sets of inscriptions. ‘‘African Union’‘ translated into the other four languages at the top and below the logo ‘‘Diplomatic Passport’‘ with corresponding translations.
The outgoing AU Chairperson said about the passport, “At the Summit in January 2016 this year, you decided that we must launch the African Passport. We are making this start with our Heads of State and Government, with Foreign Ministers, the leadership of the RECs and Organs.
But, we’ve been overwhelmed by requests, and enquiries of other Ministers, officials, and Africans citizens to share in this privilege of holding an African passport.
We will therefor suggest to the Summit for consideration, as we launch the African passport today, that we agree to create the conditions for Member states to issue the passport to their citizens, within their national policies, as and when they are ready.
It is therefore my distinct honour to present the African passports to the Chairperson of the African Union, His Excellency President Idriss Deby and to our Host, His Excellency President Paul Kagame.
Our teams during the cause of the two days shall capture the details of other Excellencies Heads of State and Government, so that you too shall receive your African passports,” she concluded.
With all that said, Ethiopia having AU centered at the capital city, Addis Ababa for over 60 years years now besides having the OAU established Ethiopia, through its foreign policy and the relentless diplomatic works of its foreign minister of the time Ketema Yifru backed by Emperor Haile Selassie, played a vital role in the formation of the first continental organization – OAU.
Ethiopia being the only African country owning a language with its own phonetics, that is Amharic, also the second-most spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic, and the official working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and several of the states within the federal system isn’t part of the newly launched African Passport with the 5 Language Inscriptions. Many Rastafarians ( pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie I, composed of the Amharic words Ras (literally “Head”, an Ethiopian title equivalent to duke), and Haile Selassie’s pre-regnal name, Tafari.) learn Amharic as a second language, as they consider it to be a sacred language. After Haile Selassie’s 1966 visit to Jamaica, study circles in Amharic were organized in Jamaica as part of the ongoing exploration of Pan-African identity and culture.
Amharic has close to 22 million first-language speakers and 4 million second-language speakers worldwide, of which slightly over 21.6 million live in Ethiopia (Ethnologue). Yet again it did not make it on the African Passport along the other 5.