WHAT IS AFRICA DAY?
By: Dale Munatswa
While you are wearing your colourful African regalia on the 25th of May, dancing the night away at a celebration and sipping on some traditional brewer, do you know what you are celebrating?
Each year, on the 25th of May, Africans in Africa and across the diaspora, take time to celebrate Africa Day. Some see it as an opportunity to skip a day at work, some use it as an excuse to drink, and some people really understand the meaning of the day, and are conscious enough to know what they are celebrating.
Africa Day is an important day in the history of Africa. According to South African History Online Library, a meeting was called for on 15 April. The meeting’s agenda was Africa’s rejection of colonial and imperialist domination in the continent. This marked the very first ever Pan African conference bringing together African countries. It also created a platform on which African countries joined forces against a common enemy. At this conference, it was made a point to observe Africa Freedom Day once each year to mark the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of Africans to free themselves from colonisation. Hence 15 April was the first date to be passed as Africa Freedom Day or Africa Liberation Day, later to be known as Africa Day.
As the number of independent countries increased in the course of time, there was need for an organisation which aimed at articulating the aspirations of African people and their struggle against foreign domination and exploitation. In another conference in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa on the 25th of May, in 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded by 30 of 32 independent African countries. State leaders then agreed to change the date of Africa Day from 15 April to25 May.
38 years later, the OAU was replaced by its successor the Africa Union (AU), on the same day 25 May 2001. The organisation comprises of fifty-two republics and two kingdoms and has a population of about 895,800,000. Its roles involve promoting democracy n African countries, promoting human rights, sustaining African economies by preventing intra-African conflicts and promoting common markets.
Africans celebrate Africa Day to commemorate African Unity through the formation of this organisation.
25 May is observed as a public holiday in only five African countries, namely Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.