Africa Day will be commemorated across the continent on the 25th May. It’s a historic day in which the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed in 1963.
The continental body which is now called the African Union was created to promote unity and solidarity amongst African states.
The Day is celebrated annually across the continent and beyond. It’s a proud moment which is celebrated with song and dance including the display of traditional arts and crafts in bustling African marketplaces.
South Africa is the only country where it’s not a public holiday. But some political parties like the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) are pushing for it to become one.
All 54 African nations celebrate Africa Day. This time the continent will celebrate the 54th anniversary of the OAU. President Jacob Zuma is expected to address the commemoration events in Pretoria on Thursday.
The PAC says it’s sad that despite attempts to unify Africa for half a century, it’s still not a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It also lamented the fact that the AU is funded by foreign donors.
“We want to see this day being a public holiday in South Africa. It is where our founding fathers of the African struggle, such as Kwame Nkrumah and the entire Pan Africanist had very great ideas about it. They wanted to see a united Africa, with one government, working for the African people.”
Even though the day is not a public holiday, many people will commemorate it across the country.
The PAC says the AU needs to fast track efforts to unite the continent and do away with colonial borders.
OAU 54 YEARS ON
Since the birth of the Organisation of African Unity 54 years ago, leaders have made strides in breaking barriers that hamper economic development, peace and security.
Whilst there are now few incidents of the staging of military coups as compared to the 70’s and 80’s, some countries like South Sudan and Somalia are still embroiled in protracted civil wars.
Famine and outbreak of deadly diseases remain major challenges facing several African states.
Unemployment and poverty continue to drive many young Africans to Europe, Asia and the Americas in search for economic opportunities.
However, these socio-economic challenges have not dampened the spirits of many Africans, who continue to cherish the Africa Day commemorations.
In South Africa, the theme for Africa Month is “The Year of OR Tambo: Building a Better Africa and a Better World”. Government says it will use the day to reaffirm support for the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and commit the country to playing its role within the AU to ensure the successful implementation of the vision and plan to build a better Africa.
However, the president of the Pan Africanist Congress of AZANIA, Narius Moloto, says it’s shameful that the South African government has not seen the need to declare May the 25th a public holiday like it’s practiced in many African countries.
Whilst, South Africa has been lauded for its contribution to peacekeeping and post-war reconstruction and development efforts in the continent, failure to deal effectively with acts of Xenophobia have blighted the government’s efforts to project the country as a safe destination for African migrants.
– By Montlenyane Diphoko and Tshepo Ikaneng