On May 25 1963 the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. On this day the African leaders that met from the 32 countries represented agreed to change the date of the Africa Freedom Day from 15 April to 25 May. Since that day Africa and Africans from around the world have celebrated this day as an occasion to showcase their African identity and heritage.
The Action Support Centre joins the rest of the continent and indeed Africans across the globe to celebrate the 2020 Africa Day commemorations. The 2020 celebrations come at a time when humanity is battling the COVID19 pandemic that has taken over 300 000 lives world wide and threatening to wipe many more. The pandemic has not just affected the usual way of celebrating this momentous day in African history, it has changed our whole way of life as a people. Our social relations have been shaken to the core as we take cover in our individual habitats as we struggle to manage the infection rate of the pandemic. The economies of many of our African countries have suffered devastating blows, exposing their deficiencies, and highlighting their inability to respond to and meet the needs of our people. Within the confines of these economies of inequality and protracted poverty we must question the progress we have made in bettering our people’s lives since the inception of the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) and under the leadership of the African Union (AU).
Africa Day, since its inception on May 1963, is meant to acknowledge and celebrate the struggle for African Unity in the fight against colonialism, and all forms of oppression. Assessing the progress we have made in building this continent to the stature it rightly deserves and recognising the sacrifices that have been made. Thus, as we celebrate this day in our homes, through online platforms we should never forget to be candid in our assessment. What progress have we made? Indeed, colonialism as we know it in 1963 has been defeated, but freedom has not yet been realised.
It is disheartening to the Action Support Centre that the continent is still seized with so many armed conflicts, a major indicator of the inability of post-colonial forms of government to realise the aspirations of the liberation struggles and independence movements whose ideals they were founded on. We must ask what forces continue to stand in the way of African aspirations. We must question why armed groups and the proxies of external interests continue to use our beloved continent as a battleground.
It is therefore fitting that this 2020 Africa Day commemorations are being held under the theme Silencing the guns, creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development and intensifying the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The deepening crisis in Mozambique, the challenges in South Sudan, Libya, Somalia, armed insurgencies across the SAHEL, ongoing crises in the Central African Republic, concerns over escalating violence in Cameroon and Burundi and mounting tensions across the continent present early warning signals for immediate action. The Action Support Centre calls on all Africans to drive a transformational agenda aimed at ending all forms of violent conflict on the continent, and building a meaningful peace in which each of us contributes to changing the material conditions of our people.
57 years after the inception of the OAU its time for Africa to reconnect with itself. The noble idea of African unity must now be realised. The future of the African continent lies in the honesty and true unity of its people. Even as we had tried to forge our own individual paths as nations, time and time again, we have been reminded of how intertwined our destinies are and how our challenges are common and similar throughout the continent. The COVID19 pandemic is a perfect tragic pointer to the gloomy future we face if we continue not to work together in unity and honesty.
On this occasion the ASC calls for all efforts to be directed towards ending all armed conflicts on the continent. It’s a time to silence the guns, forge peace and institute a more progressive developmental agenda for our people. Africa must today use this day to rethink the future, a post covid19 era that has functioning health institutions, an education system that ensures no African child is left behind, a continent at peace with itself with free movement of its people and goods and a continent that uses its resources for the betterment of its people.
In the words of the great African icon Kwame Nkrumah “ It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak, united Africa can become one of the greatest force for good in the world”
As small movements like the “Africans Arising” (Goree Island, Senegal) are formed across the continent, let Africa reclaim its greatness through peace, dignity and justice for its people here in the motherland and the diaspora scattered across the globe.