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.