Africa Day. What about?

Today Africa celebrates a mere 54 years free from colonialism. This day is known as Africa Day – formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day. It is the annual commemoration of 25 May 1963 foundation when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union headquartered in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. This day is celebrated in various countries on the African continent and many other parts of around the world.

The African Union comprises of 53 member states. It has brought together the African continent to collectively address the challenges it faces, such as armed conflict, climate change, and poverty, although it is still falling short on governance issues.

The theme for 2017 is “Building a better Africa and a Better World”. The message aims to inspire all of us to join hands and together we can ensure a better, united and socially unified country and continent by:

  • Commemorating Africa Day and Africa Month as a celebration of peace, friendship and unity on our continent.
  • Using Agenda 2063 is a joint African roadmap for continental development.
  • Improving the lives of all Africans by promoting a human rights culture.
  • Committing to nation building and social unity.
  • Understanding that a peaceful continent is a requirement for investment, regional integration and socio-economic growth.
  • Condemning attacks against foreign nationals. We must embrace and partner with our fellow Africans residing in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent.

What is Agenda 2063?
It is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. Its builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.

Some of the past and current initiatives it builds on include: the Lagos Plan of Action, The Abuja Treaty, The Minimum Integration Programme, the Programme for Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA), the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), The New partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Regional Plans and Programmes and National Plans. It is also built on national, regional, continental best practices in its formulation.

History of Africa Day
The journey to end decolonisation of the African was after After the World War II where continent gathered momentum as Africans were becoming  agitated for more political rights and independence. This process had to wait between 1945 and 1965 where a significant number of African countries gained independence from European colonial powers. Ghana became the first African country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence on 6 March 1957 thereafter giving an inspiration to other African countries to shade off European occupation.

Immediately after Ghana gaining independence under the stewardship of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, member states convened the first Conference of Independent African States on 15 April 1958 that was attended by Ghana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia with representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria andthe Union of Cameroonian Peoples. It became a collective platform from which African countries sought to cooperate in the struggle against colonialism.

At that time, there were only eight African countries that had gained independence. The conference was hard hitting of Africa’s rejection of colonial and imperialist domination of the continent. It became the first Pan African conference to be held on the continent bringing together various African countries.

Further, the conference encourage other African countries to fight against colonial rule, calling for the observance of African Freedom Day once a year, to mark “the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.” Thereafter, 15 April was enacted and called it African Freedom Day (or Africa Liberation Day), and this marked the beginning of what would later be known as Africa Day.

Please follow the latest Africa Day news on Twitter using this hashtag #AfricaDay2017 and let us build a better Africa and a better world.

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Racism and tribalism; mockery or inspired?

Racism and tribalism have long existed in the history of mankind. Other people take it to be fun not knowing it affects a fraction of society in any given setting and others take it to be mockery of sorts. For example, some Ugandans are insensitive of other tribes calling and branding them with all forms absurdities.

Therefore, if not well handled, tribal and racial differences can either build up or tear down communities and neighbourhoods.

Racism and Tribalism
Different reports that have been written suggesting that racism and tribalism are not an innate characteristic that are learned as people grow older. Case in point, some people believe that seeing a certain race say a black face, it triggers a stronger response in the amygdala (part of the brain that controls emotional response and threat detection).

Eva Telzer published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience based this on a study. The study found out that the racial sensitivity of the amygdala does not kick in until around age 14. The study further shows that the more racially diverse your peer group is, the less strong the amygdala effect. The authors of the study further wrote, “These findings suggest that neural biases to race are not innate and that race is a social construction, learned over time.”

One interesting thing that I have found out recently is that tribalism has affected our thinking, especially when many tribes are based on different thinking rather than the geographical set up.

This has really distorted our thinking and has entirely rendered us predominantly irrational. This is seen in our social gathering even in our neighbourhoods and more recently on social media.

Uganda just like many other African countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa are are predominantly Christian. Just as it is known biblically, tribalism and racism are taken to be a Sin.

Racism is more than a societal problem that is morally and spiritual issue. Racism is taken to be sin because it prevents Christians who harbour it in their attitudes and actions from obeying Christ’s command to love our neighbour (Matt. 22:39) and our neighbour is any other human being (Luke 10:25-37).

Racism is also a sin because it has its roots in pride and arrogance (Proverbs 13:10; 16:18; Isaiah 2:17). This sin is said to have originated in Lucifer’s desire to elevate himself above the throne of God. Note the egocentric language in Isaiah’s description of Lucifer’s desire.

Esmond DN once said “We can not fight racism in all its forms until we realize that racism is not a Black or White problem; it’s a sin problem. When we act in prejudicial ways towards others, we actually glorify Satan”.

Allow me roll the dice a little bit. In South Africa (during the era of Apartheid) and in the United States of America, blacks were never allowed to attend the same schools with their white compatriots not even riding on the same bus. This problem lingered on before the likes of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X stood among others and spoke against it.

I was equally taken aback while in India with the Caste System that divides the Hindus into four main stratums namely; Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. This is further divided into 3,000 castes or there are about and 25,000 Sub-Castes with each based on their specific occupation. Meanwhile, out of the Hindu caste system there are the Achhoots known as the Dalits or the untouchables who in most cases do the least jobs.

We should not forget the indigenous people of the world who are thought to be 5,000 people and speak more than 4,000 of the nearly 7,000 languages that are still used today, and whose bio-cultural heritage plays an important role in the protection of the diversity and the ecosystems are still left to fight for life based on their natural being. But that is not my point today, let it be for another time.

Well, allow me take you to how scholars differentiate these two terminologies. Nwaigbo F. describes tribalism as the attitude and practice of harbouring such a strong feeling of loyalty or bonds to one’s tribe that one excludes or even demonizes those ‘others’ who do not belong to that group.

He goes ahead to say that tribalism thus prompts one to have a positive attitude towards those who are connected to him or her through kinship, family and clan, and it de facto (directly or indirectly) alienates one from people of other tribes who are not related to him or her by blood, kinship, family or clan.

On the other hand, Merriam-Webster describes racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capabilities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

Therefore, tribalism and racism in the modern day history constructs of and within our societies is based on the prevalent conditions of cultural, political, economic and social leanings. The more we glorify it, the more it will engulf us all and make other communities go into arms with the other.

In her article, Harriet Anena wrote about how President Idi Amin killed two thirds of soldiers, out of a total of 9,000 men in his first year of power. “By the time Amin was toppled in 1979, the smell of death and fright hung over Uganda”. This could easily have culminated into what Rwanda went through in 1994. So do we as Ugandans want to see this (retaliation) happen again or be replicated not only aerated by the leaders but as citizens because we label other tribes with insanities and take them to be of a lower caliber? I hope not!