Saturday, May 23, 2020


African Day (formerly Africa Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization African Unit (OAU) (now known as the African Union) on 25 May 1963. Celebrated and acknowledged in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.

The First Congress of Independent African States held in AccraGhana on 15 April 1958, was convened by Prime Minister of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and comprised representatives from Egypt (then a constituent part of the United Arab Republic), LiberiaLibyaMoroccoSudanTunisia, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon, in the host country Ghana. The Union of South Africa did not participate, nor were they invited.

The conference showcased the progress of liberation movements on the African continent in addition to symbolizing the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Although the Pan-African Congress 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 during the Casablanca Group and the Monrovia Group era, until the formation of the OAU in 1963.

Five years later, on 25 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 Organization of African Unity was founded, with the initial aim to encourage the decolonization of AngolaMozambiqueSouth Africa, and Southern Rhodesia. The organization pledged to support the work conducted by freedom fighters, and remove military access to colonial nations. A charter set out which sought to improve the living standards across member states. Selassie exclaimed, "May this convention of the union last 1,000 years."

The charter was signed by all attendees on 26 May, except for Morocco. At that meeting, Africa Freedom Day renamed Africa Liberation Day. In 2002, the OAU replaced by the African Union. However, the renamed celebration of Africa Day continued to celebrate on 25 May, with respect to the formation of OAU.

Contemporary celebrations
Present-day Africa Day is celebrated both in Africa and around the world, on 25 May. Albeit in some cases, these periods of celebrations can stretch out over a period of days or weeks). The themes set for each year's Africa Day, with 2015's being the "Year of Women's Empowerment and Development towards Africa's Agenda 2063".

Sources: AU website and Wikipedia