May 25th is celebrated annually as Africa Day. This day’s highlight is the annual commemoration of Africa’s independence and liberation struggles from colonial imperialists. The first union of African countries was established as the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) on May 25th, 1963, and became the African Union (AU) 38 years later. The OAU was established to promote political, economic, and social integration among African States and eradicate colonialism, apartheid, and neo-colonialism from Africa. Today marks the 57th anniversary of the organisation, and represents the determined efforts for unity among the African people.
A Brief Historical Background
At the end of World War II, Africans were increasingly fighting to promote the decolonisation of the African continent. These efforts were fruitful as between 1945 and 1965, a significant number of African countries gained independence from European colonial powers. The first of these countries was Ghana, which gained independence on March 6th, 1957, under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana’s independence became an inspiring hallmark to other African countries fighting against colonial rule.
A year after gaining independence, Ghana convened the first Conference of Independent African States on April 15th, 1958. This Conference was attended by representatives from African countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, and Tunisia. The Conference was a collective effort towards the explicit assertion of Africa’s rejection of colonial and imperialist domination of the continent. It is regarded as the first Pan-African liberation conference held on the continent, bringing together various African countries.
The Conference inspired the need for a unified Africa committed to the wellbeing of the African people. The OAU was formed in a meeting with over thirty African nations in attendance on May 25th, 1963. The meeting’s primary aim was to influence the decolonization of African countries, including Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia. The organisation focused on supporting freedom fighters and removing military access to colonial nations. A charter was established to enhance the livelihood of member states across Africa.
South Africa became part of the Organisation of the African Union (OAU) in 1994 at the end of Apartheid rule. Around this time, about 21 more member states had joined the OAU since 1963. 38 years after its formation, the OAU became the African Union (AU) on May 25th, 2001. While the organisation of the AU is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, its legislative arm, the Pan-African Parliament, is in Midrand, South Africa. The current Chairperson of the AU is President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.
Celebrating 57 Years After
This year’s celebration is ongoing amid efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa is celebrating Africa Month under the theme: “Silencing the Guns, Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and intensifying the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The celebration of Africa Month and Africa Day provides an excellent opportunity to promote African unity, deeper regional integration, and the continent’s general wellbeing. Also, it is an opportunity to educate people on the African Union’s initiatives to fight the pandemic. The African Union has developed a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy, established an African Union COVID-19 Response Fund, and strengthened the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The continent generally seems to be making progressive efforts towards combating the widespread virus.
At ELSiEiSY Blog, we join Africans all over the world to celebrate as we hope for a better and brighter future for Africa. Happy World Africa Day!