Did you know Africa Day was formerly known as African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day?
In case you don’t know, Africa day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25th May 1963. It is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.
How did it come about?
Well,on 15 April 1958, the First Congress of Independent African States was held in Accra,Ghana.The conference showcased progress of liberation movements on the African continent in addition to symbolising the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Although the Pan-African had been working towards similar goals since its foundation in 1900, this was the first time such a meeting had taken place on African soil.
The Conference called for the founding of an African Freedom Day, a day to “…mark each year 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.” The conference was notable in that it laid the basis for the subsequent meetings of African heads of state and government.
5 years later…
On 25th May 1963, representatives of thirty African nations met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted by Emperor Haile Selassie. By then more than two-thirds of the continent had achieved independence, mostly from imperial European states.
At this meeting, the Organisation of African Unity was founded, with the initial aim to encourage the decolonisation of Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia which is currently named as Zimbabwe. The Organisation pledged to support the work conducted by freedom fighters, and remove military access to colonial nations. A charter was set out which sought to improve the living standards across member states. Selassie exclaimed, “May this convention of union last 1,000 years.”
The charter was signed by all attendees on 26th May, with the exception of Morocco. At that meeting, Africa Freedom Day was renamed Africa Liberation Day. In 2002, the OAU was replaced by the African Union. However, the renamed celebration of Africa Day continued to be celebrated on 25th May in respect to the formation of the OAU.
Do you know that 25th May also marks the anniversary of George Floyds’s murder by police in the US?
With the Africa Day Celebration being a few days away…
What are your thoughts on Africa’s role in the Global Racial Equality Movement?