Africa Day: What You Need to Know

Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity.

On May 25th 1963, the leaders from 30 of the then 32 independent African states signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The OAU was created to help bring about change, freedom and independence to many African countries.

In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community and the organisation was transformed into African Union on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa.

Despite the name change to the African Union, both the name and date of Africa Day have been retained and Africa Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the people and governments of Africa.

Africe Day is celebrated in various countries on the African continent as well as across the world.

The Africa Day theme for this year is ‘Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want. However, there are a number of issues which have piled up pressure on the African Economy.

Chad’s military government after the sudden death of president Idris Derby has raised concern while the ongoing Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict which has led to loss of lives, displacement, allegations of war crimes and ethnic cleansing hovering over the conflict is yet another.

Ethiopia, the second most populous country on the continent also has a dispute with Sudan and Egypt concerning its dam on the Nile River’s main tributary. There is also Mozambique’s islamist isurgency in the North cabo Delgado province which has led to a refugee crisis.

The rising insurgency in Nigeria poses a threat as killings, kidnapping, herders on killing spree, abductions and banditry are all over the place. Mali’s joint civiilian military transition government after last year’s coup that ousted Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and the worsening insecurity in the sahel region where countries have struggled to combat multiple armed groups.

Whie all these are negatives, there are some positive which includes the situation in Libya with the continued observation and respect of a ceasefire agreed to in March would be one. Another, is the smooth transfer of power in March to a new interim Government of National Unity (GNU) and recent plans for elections to hold in December renews hope for peace in the conflict-affected country, and stability across the wider region.

On covid pandemic, although there have been shortage of the vaccine, the continent has been lauded by some analyst for defying the odds by managing to control the pandemic that has ravaged other parts of the world, a continent least impacted globally by the pandemic. And that may be worth celebrating at the very least.

To commemorate Africa Day in Cape Town, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development held a walk to promote African unity and put an end to racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.

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