ADDIS ABABA– The African continent celebrated the legacy of the late Adebayo Adedeji, who had served as the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) for over 16 years.

The continent, under the leadership of the ECA, has glorified the works and contributions of Adedeji through various meetings and gatherings as he was buried Friday in his home country Nigeria.

Hundreds of African policymakers and experts from all walks of life including Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as top ECA officials have expressed their respect to Adedeji’s legacy to Africa’s development, the UNECA revealed in a statement on Saturday.

Adedeji, who was the ECA Chief for 16 years from 1975 to 1991, is acknowledged by many as one of the most towering intellectual figures and development practitioners in Africa in the late 20th century.

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, who stressed his country’s and the African continent’s respect to the late Adedeji for the great work he did in seeking Africa’s economic emancipation, said “he was a true African… He fought a good fight for Africa and I want to say his legacy will endure.”

“He was my brother, my teacher, my mentor, a great Pan-Africanist and an activist. We are saying thank you for your enduring sacrifice in the struggle for Africa’s emancipation,” the ECA quoted Geingnob as saying.

“It is sad that we are still facing some problems in Africa, despite the struggles of the past for a buoyant, self-sustaining continent,” Geingnob said, adding that “However, on the premise of the building blocks people like Adedeji has laid, alongside present and past heroes, I am optimistic for the future.”

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also said “Adedeji was an outstanding African who deserved all the tributes that were coming from all over the world for the great work he did for the African continent, in particular his quest for an integrated and economically emancipated Africa.”

He further said that Adedeji, as the outstanding economist and great thinker that he was, did great work to ensure Africa elevated itself to greater heights; work he said should continue to be championed since the foundation had already been laid.

“He was deeply involved in the integration of Africa and he did a great work in projecting Africa. We are proud of all that he achieved in his lifetime,” the vice president said.

The high-level African officials also praised Adedeji for his commitment to Africa, his love for his people and the continent; his selflessness that went beyond measure, the ECA said in a statement. His positive influence on the economic and social development of the African continent has been also praised.

“We are happy that as the ECA we were here today to thank his family for bequeathing to us and the continent as a whole a man of his stature who wanted nothing less but the total emancipation of the African people,” said ECA’s Southern Africa Regional Director, Said Adejumobi.

“ECA feels honoured in celebrating this great pan-Africanist,” Adejumobi said.

The ECA also on Saturday hosted a high-level memorial symposium in Lagos Nigeria, in honour of Adedeji.

The symposium mainly reflected on the relevance of Adedeji’s ideas and notions of development in the contemporary era of Africa.

The symposium further evaluated the trajectory and current context of Africa’s development, as well as the challenges, opportunities and prospects for the structural transformation of African economies and the Continent.