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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the African Affairs Bureau

Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Remarks at the Corporate Council on Africa Reception
Washington, DC
October 6, 2008

Tonight is a special evening – tonight is a night to look back - to reminisce with friends and colleagues about the people and places that have embodied the work of the Africa Bureau for a half century. Tonight is also an opportunity to look ahead – to build upon the Bureau’s legacy of engagement, excellence, and at times persistence that has defined our work for the past 50 years.

This evening we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs – and on behalf of all those that serve and have served the AF family, I thank you all for your service and for being here to share in this important milestone.

I would like to especially thank Jeffery Sturchio and Stephen Hayes of the Corporate Council on Africa, Peter Tichansky of the Business Council for International Understanding, and Sharon Patton and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art for their commitment, service, and for hosting this celebration.

I would also like to extend a special welcome to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and my good friend, Djiboutian Ambassador Olhaye, and the many distinguished guests for joining us.

In 1958, President Eisenhower created the Africa Bureau to change what had been a traditionally Eurocentric policy view of Africa. The decision reflected an understanding that the emergence of an independent Africa was as important to Americans as it was to Africans - so important that we needed to assign a much higher priority to our relations with the continent.

Since that time, the United States has forged a vibrant partnership with the continent that seeks to support Africans as they build better lives - build their own nations - and transform their futures.

Sometimes we forget that it has only been 50 years since African countries began obtaining their independence. During these past 50 years, Africans have overcome great challenges and adversity and have achieved much success – from states attaining their independence from colonial rule to the end of apartheid; from the decline of conflict and the rise in democracy, over the last decade African people have demonstrated a commitment to peace, security and development.

We at the Africa Bureau view the next half century as a historic window of opportunity for the African continent. The United States will continue our firm commitment to Africa’s future. As President Bush said in February speaking to the candidates, “Keep the Africa Focus!”  We will stand with our African partners to resolve conflict, and promote peace, democracy and global health. We will do this through our trade and assistance programs, and most importantly, through our personal engagement and commitment. Sustained progress in these areas gives us every reason to be hopeful. In this spirit, we forge ahead. We forge ahead into our second half century heartened by the vision of a free and prosperous Africa.

Thank you all again.

Released on November 6, 2008

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