Africa Day: What is it and what does it celebrate?

03 Apr

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

Africa Day, designated by the African Union as an annual celebration of the continent’s unity, falls around the middle of each year.  Celebrations to mark the day occur across the globe: in some African states, it is a designated national holiday, while in diverse cities – such as New York, London, Portlaoise, Dublin and Washington – academic gatherings and cultural showcases mark the day.

Africans across the world are today celebrating Africa Day in grand style, dressed in beautiful traditional outfits and putting on a colourful display of culture, food and diversity.

Africa Day was first held in 1963 in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, when 32 countries formed the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU).

In the more than half a decade since, 21 additional countries have joined the OAU, with South Africa the last country to join in 1994 after Apartheid ended.

The OAU's original mission was to bring freedom to African countries that were still under colonial rule in the 60s, defend their sovereignty, uphold human rights and restore the dignity of the African people.

Nowadays, Africa Day is a national holiday in a handful of countries and is widely celebrated by Africans - but what does it mean in a modern age?


Reaching back to your roots

"It will help them understand Africa, its people and the diversity within that continent,"  

Promoting peace and harmony

"I have an African background, I am Mediterranean and I have an Arab heritage as well, which makes you connect better with different people. 

Empowering Africa's youth

"83 per cent of Zimbabweans were born after Mugabe first came into power as prime minister in 1980, while 79 per cent of Ugandans were born after Museveni took over power in 1986." 

"There have been many changes in Africa. In the beginning it was just fight for independence but now we are fighting for our development." 

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