AFRICA DAY CELEBRATION

 AFRICA DAY CELEBRATION

africa.com

Africa Day is observed annually to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was created on 25 May 1963. It was the precursor of the African Union (AU).

Africa day provides an opportunity to celebrate the socio-economic achievements of the continent and is in line with the African Union Theme for the year 2022 “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent”.

The end of World War II saw exceeding efforts from Africans over the process of decolonization of the African continent for more political rights and independence from colonial rule, thus between 1945 and 1965, a significant number of African countries.

Gained independence from European colonial powers, with Ghana becoming the first African country in the South of the Sahara gaining its independence on March 6, 1957, under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana’s independence, therein, served as an inspiration to other African countries fighting against colonial rule, and Ghana played a central role in this objective. 

A year after its independence, Ghana convened the first Conference of Independent African States on April 15, 1958. African countries in attendance included Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, Liberia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco amongst others, with representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of Cameroonian Peoples.

The conference was a collective platform of the explicit assertion of Africa’s rejection of colonial and imperialist domination of the continent, becoming the first Pan-African liberation conference to be held on the continent, bringing together various African countries.  Further, at the meeting, the first African Freedom Day was celebrated, which was later recognized as Africa Day.

Five years later on May 25, 1963, following the sentiments of the conference held in Ghana, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted by Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. 

The OAU was formed in a meeting seating over thirty African nations with the aim to influence the decolonization of African countries including Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, and Southern Rhodesia.  The organization covenanted to support freedom fighters and remove military access to colonial nations, and a charter was established to improve the livelihood of member states across Africa, where Selassie pledged, “May this convention of the union last 1,000 years.”

The first Conference of Independent African States convened on April 15, 1958, in Ghana and further encouraged and stamped a shared African identity of unity and fighting against colonialism. The conference further called 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.”

April 15th was therein enacted as African Freedom Day or Africa Liberation Day, and countries all over the continent celebrate and mark the commemoration each year, with South Africa celebrating its Freedom Day on April 27th of each year.  The formation of the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) on May 25, 1963, marked the beginning of what would later be known as Africa Day.

Succeeding the April conference, the All Africa People’s Conference (AAPC) was held on December 8th through 13th, 1958, in Accra, Ghana. The AAPC was attended by both independent and non-independent countries, including representatives of liberation movements.

From South Africa, the liberation party against Apartheid Rule, the African National Congress (ANC) could not formally attend the first Conference of Independent African States in Ghana as the ruling apartheid government prevented it.  However, a memorandum was sent to the conference.  On behalf of the party, was a member of the ANC in the Transvaal and a 1956 Treason Trialist, Alfred Hutchinson, who left the country after his acquittal, and attended the AAPC (All African People’s Conference), which was held a few months later.

South Africa only became part of the Organisation of the African Union (OAU) in 1994 following the end of Apartheid rule, where 21 more member states had joined the OAU since its foundation in 1963.  Thirty-eight years after its formation, the OAU evolved into the African Union (AU) on May 25, 2001, where South Africa paved the way as a founding member. Although the organization of the AU remains headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, its legislative arm, the Pan-African Parliament, is situated in Midrand, South Africa.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

Karabelo Moncho

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