24 May 2017

Celebrating Africa Day

"Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge - a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve..." (Kwame Nkrumah)



While most African states gained independence from colonial powers between 1945 and 1965, today Africa still faces a myriad of socio-economic and political challenges some of which are primarily rooted in the deeply entrenched psychological scars left behind by colonialism. Recognising the division brought about by the way in which Africa was invaded, divided, occupied and colonised through the conquest of Africa formalised by the Berlin Conference of 1884, Africa Day has been celebrated since 25 May 1963 with the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was the precursor to the African Union (AU) as it is known today.

Celebrated on the continent and in the diaspora around the world, Africa Day also presents us with an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come since our preliminary emancipation from colonialism and oppression. According to Levi Kwabato, a political commentator with an interest in Pan-Africanism, "In practice, Africa remains a divided continent. In thought, it remains a colonised continent. In practice and in thought, it's not an integrated continent." In this respect then, Africa Day serves both as a reminder of the continuing struggles of social justice, inequality, poverty and armed conflict which still faces the continent as well as a call to decolonise our embattled mentality and to educate ourselves about our histories, cultures and identity as Africans.