The African Union Mission to the United States, in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, held, On November 15, 2016, a farewell event and reception to honor U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel for his outstanding contribution to the enduring partnership between the United States and Africa during his 45 consecutive years of service in the US House of Representatives.
The Honorable Jane Harman, Director, President & CEO of the Wilson Center and former U.S. Representative gave welcoming remarks for the event and also paid tribute to Congressman Rangel, highlighting the great career of Congressman Rangel and their long working relationship as Congress Members. The Honorable Ed Royce, Chair of the House of Representative’s Foreign Affairs Committee, also paid tribute to Congressman Rangel for his excellent contribution to US Foreign Affairs. The Honorable Karen Bass, Ranking Member of the Africa Subcommittee in the House Foreign Affairs Committee also paid tribute to Congressman Rangel for his great work for the continent and his guidance as a great mentor to her, as another great Congressional leader on Africa.
From his side, Mr. Tarek Ben Youssef, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the African Union Mission to the United States, thanked on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, all the participants for their presence to pay tribute to the Honorable Charles B. Rangel and celebrate his immeasurable contribution to the longstanding ties between the United Sates and Africa.
Commending Congressman Rangel for his decades of work supporting Africa, and the important and lasting outcome of his efforts, including the recent 10-year renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Mr. Ben Youssef stated that Congressman Rangel has epitomized what it means to spend one’s entire life dedicated to making his nation, his community, and his fellow citizens of the world better off. He also expressed gratitude for the Congressman’s tireless support to Africa and his friendship to the African Union and the ideals it defends and promotes, for a peaceful, prosperous and integrated continent.
The Dean of the African Diplomatic Corp in Washington, DC H.E. Serge Mombouli, Ambassador of the Republic of Congo, gave remarks thanking Congressman Rangel for his service to Africa on behalf of all the African Ambassadors Group to the U.S. He reiterated the importance of the Congressman’s role in AGOA’s renewal and also mentioned his powerful work done to promote and defend the ideals of freedom and human dignity particularly his fight against apartheid in South Africa.
The Ambassador of South Africa, H.E. Mninwa Mahlangu, paid a special tribute to Congressman Rangel on behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, thanking him for the important role he played in pushing for the end of Apartheid in the country. He powerfully stated that if it had not have been for his brave acts, that he as Ambassador would not be in the US today as a representative of a democratic South Africa to bid him farewell. He highlighted the important role that Congressman Rangel played in passing the Rangel Amendment, which signaled that the US would no longer support the Apartheid regime and helped spur divestment from South Africa that eventually culminated in the government releasing political prisoners and ending the oppressive system.
H.E. Ambassador Tete Antonio, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the United Nations, gave a closing tribute, on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, stating that Congressman’s Rangel’s triumph in reaffirming justice and dignity for all was Africa’s triumph as well. Ambassador Tete indicated that Africa found in the honoree a committed and strong ally within the House of Representatives and the Congressional Black Caucus since he first assumed Office in 1971, before adding that Congressman Rangel shared his hope for a free and inclusive Africa in times of darkness and when our path to freedom was unclear. Ambassador Tete cited numerous examples of Congressman Rangel Commitment to Africa.
Ambassador Tete highlighted in his final remarks that the African Union remains always grateful for Congressman Rangel active leadership and the key role he has played in advancing our shared values and interests. “Your 50 years in Congress has contributed to lay the ground of a stronger Africa, on behalf of its 6th region, the Diaspora. It is thanks to genuine friendship like yours, that Africa was able to build on strong foundations for the “Africa We Want” in 50 years as determined in the African Union Agenda 2063”, he concluded.
The Permanent Representative of the AU to the United Nations was joined by the other speakers to present, on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, to Congressman Rangel a proclamation in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments, his rich legacy and his friendship to Africa and the African Union.
Congressman Rangel gave remarks and humbly thanked everyone for their kind tributes and in particular the African Union Commission for the proclamation presented to him on this occasion. He noted that he played one small part in so many larger movements for change. He praised the growth and progress of the African continent, and expressed how so much has been achieved thus far, and how much potential there is now for the people of Africa and its Diasporas around the world.
Distributed by APO on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).