What we now annually celebrate as African Liberation Day or Africa Day first began as Africa Freedom Day in 1958. Then, Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and president of Ghana, convened the First Conference of Independent States in Accra which was attended by 8 independent African States. Their act of solidarity marked the first Pan-African conference ever held on the continent.
By 1963, more than two-thirds of the continent had become independent. This prompted them to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) at their meeting in Ethiopia. The organisation would later be disbanded in 2002 by then Chairman, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, to be replaced by the African Union.
The main focuses of the OAU were economic integration amongst its member states and the eradication of colonialism and neo-colonialism from the continent, noble endeavours that promoted the freedom and unity of African nations. As such, they pledged to support the work of freedom fighters in African nation working towards their independence.
The theme for this year’s Africa Day celebrations is “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.”
Africa Day is celebrated as a holiday on the continent and around the world. It is representative of the solidarity of African people around the world.
As the continent continues to grow and develop, we cannot forget the triumphs of our humble beginnings or the unity to be found therein.