About the Forum
Frank, relevant and candid dialogue is fundamental to resolving conflict and transforming societies. The Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa is an annual meeting that brings together African leaders and stakeholders to engage and explore African-led security solutions. The Forum complements formal meetings of African heads of state and government by assembling them in an informal, collaborative environment.
In the spirit of gatherings taking place under the Baobab tree, the Forum offers room and space for panel discussions, interaction with the floor and bilateral talks to share views and experiences in a time efficient, result-oriented and open manner. The Tana Forum promotes African-led solutions by holding discussions on the strategic and pro-active management of African peace and security issues driven by the interest to contribute to stronger ownership of these issues.
From the seating arrangements to the dress code, the informal nature of the Forum enables participants to get to the heart of the issue at hand, a truly unique experience for high-level dialogue. Olusegun Obasanjo, Forum Chairperson and former President of Nigeria, famously removes his boubou at the start of the Forum as a gesture to participants to “ditch the tie and roll up your sleeves.“
Furthermore, the Forum is immersive in that it combines the worlds of academia and research with real-world, real-time experience. The result is an action-oriented and policy-relevant discussion.
The centrepiece of the Tana experience is the baobab tree. The common name of trees known as Adansonia, the baobab is the national tree of Madagascar and is located in many African countries. Known as the tree of life, it can provide shelter, clothing, food, and water for the animal and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions. The trees reach heights of 5-30m and trunk diameters of 7-11m. Its trunk can hold up to 120,000ltrs of water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air.
“Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.“ Akan and Ewe proverb (Benin, Ghana and Togo)
The baobab is relevant to Tana through its symbolism of dialogue as it invites participants to sit down in a spirit of commonality and moral duty towards finding solutions in peace and security for the continent. The baobab tree adorns the main stage of the forum where heads of state, policy makers, and academics seat to discuss pressing issues on peace and security in Africa.
About Bahir Dar
In addition to the baobab, the forum’s venue is also a key part of its unique identity. The forum is held every year on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest highland lake in Ethiopia and the fourth largest in Africa, which bears its name. Source of the Blue Nile, Tana has more than 21 islands and gives the forum’s host city Bahir Dar its picturesque backdrop as one of Ethiopia’s top touristic destinations