Africa Day May 25th

Published: May 24, 2016

History of Africa Day

After World War II, the process of decolonization of the African continent gathered momentum as Africans increasingly agitated for more political rights and independence. While in some parts of the continent colonial powers reluctantly and grudgingly relinquished power, in other parts African people launched protracted struggles against the recalcitrant colonial regimes. Thus, between 1945 and 1965 a significant number of African countries gained independence from European colonial powers. Ghana became the first African country south of the Sahara to gain independence on 6 March 1957. Its independence served an inspiration to other African countries struggling against colonial rule and as a result Ghana occupied a central role in the struggle against colonial rule.

From 1959 to 1963 African Liberation Day was celebrated in Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana and by African people in Britain, China, Soviet Union and the United States (US). Consequently, 15 April was enacted as African Freedom Day (or Africa Liberation Day), and this marked the beginning of what would later be known as Africa Day. As more African countries became independent, the need for an organisation that would articulate aspirations of African people and their struggle arose. Consequently on 25 May 1963, leaders of 32 African nations converged in Ethiopia‘s capital Addis Ababa and formed the Organization of African Unity (OAU), (South African History Online 2012).

The OAU was committed to helping bring about change and freedom to many African countries and restore dignity of African people. The 25th May, now celebrated as Africa Day, marks the beginning of a quest for the unity of the continent and for the political and economic emancipation of its people as well as co-operation among them. In 2002 the OAU was dissolved and was replaced by the African Union (AU), (South African History Online 2012)

‘It is extra special this year, with the body marking its golden jubilee. The official celebration will take place at the AU’s headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the same city that hosted the inaugural summit in 1963. Fifty years on, thousands are expected to fill the city’s National Stadium for a day of celebrations that will include a youth parade, a music show, and a soccer match,’ (Africa.com)

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