Tuesday 13 April 2021
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Africa Day: a celebration of unity, solidarity and hope

Saturday, May 25, 2019, the people of Africa, on the Continent and in global Africa, celebrated Africa Day. Africa Day signifies the rebirth of the African of the dignity of the people as they liberated themselves from slavery, colonial oppression and exploitation. This is the day when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by thirty independent African States.
Africa Day represents the determination of the African people to safeguard their interests and encourages the African Continent to scaleup African development.
This year, Africa Day was celebrated under the theme: Year of refugees, returnees and Internally Displaced People (IDP). The theme captures the current condition under which some of our people find themselves: being forced to flee their countries because of internal conflicts and political instability.
Those who were able to return to their countries of origin still find themselves unable to re-establish their lives. Some are internally displaced. This means that Africa still faces formidable obstacles in establishing politically stable societies due sometimes because of bad politics or external interference as Africa possesses resources which outsiders scramble for.
Either way, Africa must get its house in order for the sake of its citizens.
The Chairman of the African Union (AU) Moussa Faki Mahamat in his message on the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, the forerunner to the African Union ( AU), recognised especially the plight of the African youth.
Some African youth are taking great risks in trying to migrate to other parts of the world in search of better opportunities.
He therefore called upon the African States to return to the shared vision of an Africa which is integrated, peaceful, and prosperous.
He emphasized this Africa’s common vision should be the instrument to fast-track Africa’s integration through an African space of freedom, opportunities, progress and development.
Mr Mahamat sees African development as being driven by agricultural productivity, local processing of raw materials, product diversification, training, the sustainable enhancement of human resources, the extension of industrial fabric, a diversified network of infrastructure and the exploitation of the energy potential of the Continent.
If properly enhanced these initiatives should be the basis of job creation opportunities for the African youth.
He believes that this will happen within the ambit of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA shall be launched at the Extraordinary Summit of African States scheduled to take place in Miamey, Niger, on 7 July 2019.
These are laudable views. However, are African countries ready to implement the AfCFTA?
Where are the evidences showing that the African countries have put into place mechanism for implementing the Continental Free Trade Area!
For example, are trade facilitation systems in place!
Here at home, it is difficult to identify campaigns mobilising the business sector to take advantage of the Continental Trade Area. Beef prices are depressed because there is an over supply in the Southern Africa Sub-Region. We are now selling course salt to the USA.
Cement is in over-supply. Senegal has an over-supply of pearl- millet but our millet processors are importing from India.
We simply are not aware of what the African market demands or what other African countries have on offer.
The original spirit of Africa Freedom Day as it was called initially was the promotion of African identity, solidarity and unity.
Africa had an identity crisis due to centuries of slavery, colonial subjugation and exploitation. African identity and pride were partially restored by African freedom and independence.
However, African pride can only be fully restored when inequality in resources distribution, poverty, youth unemployment and similar deprivations are addresses. Economic transformation and development are the key in this regard, hence, the importance of inter African trade.
African solidarity is still crucial if Africa was going to defend its interests in international fora.
The Africa Freedom Day should be the occasion to popularise the importance of African unity among the grassroots. In fact, African Day should not be a one- day event.
There should be an African week during which special events could be organised to mobilise the youth and the grassroots at large. At schools’ level students should be encouraged to debate African current issues.
Essay competitions on topical Africa themes should be encouraged.
The civil society should also be encouraged to carry out sensitization and mobilisation activities in communities.
Africa Freedom Day should also be dedicated to the founders of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
They formalised the proposal which emanated from the First Congress of Independent African States which was convened by Prime Minister, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in Accra , Ghana, on 15 April 1958.
This is where the idea of Africa Freedom Day or Africa Liberation Day emanated.
When the OAU was launched on 25 May 1963 the idea was formalised. This became the rallying point for the Liberation Movements.
We should all join the wishes of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia who proclaimed at the adoption of the OAU Charter, that : “ May this convention of union last 1000 years!”
Africa must unite! This shall ensure the strength of our Continent.

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