WASHINGTON – Gabon commemorated its 63rd Independence Day in a colorful and moving celebration Friday evening, tracing its freedom roots back to August 17, 1960. The grandeur of the event was complemented by the presence of distinguished guests, including the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Noël Nelson Messone and key representatives from the White House, international dignitaries, and members of the Gabon diaspora.
The evening commenced with a flag entrance led by Cardinal, Chief Major Magandar Candy, and patriciae as the crowd lip-synch the joint national anthems of Gabon and the United States.
A film spotlighting Gabon as the “last Eden on Earth” accentuated the nation’s rich history and burgeoning potential for investment. Reminders of Gabon’s rich cultural, economic, and diverse ecology graced the screen.
Ambassador Noel Nelson Meson took the podium, reiterating the U.S.’s deep-rooted historical ties, established in the 1840s, evoking a sense of shared purpose between the U.S. and Gabon. A solemn minute of silence was observed at the event in memory of the late Ambassador Michael Moussa Adamo, who was cherished by many in attendance.
Dignitaries raised a glass to Gabon’s freedom, capturing the evening’s mood and preparing the way for an elegant cocktail reception hosted by Ambassador Messone. The evening’s theme was clear: a celebration of Gabon’s past and an optimistic look forward to a future anchored in mutual respect, collaboration, and prosperity with the U.S.
Gabon’s role in the Economic Community of Central African States, its commitment to environmental preservation with 11% of its land dedicated to national parks, and its aspirations to shield its marine ecosystems, were highlighted in the Ambassador’s speech. Gabon eagerly awaits the upcoming Tropical Forests Summit in the Republic of Congo post its contribution to the One Planet Summit in Libreville.
Despite not being a major global emission contributor, Gabon’s stand on climate change remains unwavering. The nation’s journey from grappling with COVID-19’s socio-economic impacts to strengthening its domestic human rights and gender equality laws was also underscored.
August holds monumental significance for Gabon as the nation preps for its first-ever combined presidential, legislative, and local elections. Ensuring these pivotal elections are conducted peacefully remains a priority.
Amb. Messone emphasized Gabon’s commitment to worldwide peace, security, and prosperity was evident throughout the night. It emphasized its regional leadership role, discussed the challenges it’s facing, and highlighted its proactive steps toward human rights, gender equality, and democratic reforms and endeavors in environmental protection, aiming to shield 30% of its marine ecosystems by 2023.
reminisced about the strengthening ties since diplomatic relations were established in the sixties. The continued deepening of ties, the anticipated defense cooperation agreement, and Gabon’s inclusion in international cooperative programs indicate a bright bilateral future.
A notable accomplishment celebrated was the partnership with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation resulting in Africa’s first-ever “Blue Bond.” This $500 million initiative reflects Gabon’s commitment to marine conservation and its blue economy.
Gabon expressed gratitude for the U.S. technology fueling its growth and remained hopeful of augmenting U.S. investments, particularly in eco-tourism.
Deputy Director for African Affairs, Judd Devermont, representing the U.S., highlighted the centuries-old bond between the nations and acknowledged its strategic importance. The frequent high-level dialogues shared global concerns, and President Biden’s recognition of this vital relationship signals an optimistic trajectory for US-Gabon ties as was reflected in the recent African Leader Summit, where President Bongo of Gabon engaged in essential dialogues with the US representatives.
In his closing remakes, the Ambassador shared a toast with guests.
“…a toast to a bright future and strong, exciting relationships between the governments of Gabon and the United States. But also, between the peoples of Gabon and the United States. And I wish you a very pleasant and good evening. Thank you.”
The event underscored the thriving relationship between Gabon and the U.S.—a bond deeply rooted in history and evolving with shared aspirations, challenges, and triumphs. The ceremony celebrated both Gabon’s rich history and its bright future, characterized by enhanced collaboration, joint prosperity, and mutual respect between the U.S., Gabon, and its diaspora. The festivities concluded with a toast to Gabon’s freedom, followed by a cocktail reception.