Today marks 54 years since the first ever Africa Day celebrations occurred as a commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity now known as the African Union. Africa has definitely come a long way since that day in Ethiopia when just thirty African countries met and founded the African Union. A third of the African countries were still under colonial rule but now 54 years later all African countries have been liberated from African rule and can partake in the celebrations with as much gusto as is befitting the day.
There is a world of difference between the Africa that we born after our nations were liberated live in and the ones in which our parents and grandparents before us lived. A lot of what we consider to be our rights were privileges which previous generations could never even dream of being afforded. It is hence important for today’s youth to appreciate the significance of this day and the sacrifice which made it possible. There are countless reasons why African youth need to appreciate Africa Day more but listed in this article are only a few of those reasons.
Independence from colonial rule
As mentioned above, when the Africa Union was formed in 1963, only 30 African countries were independent and convened in Ethiopia. The primary vision of the African Union was to unite African nations and work towards enabling all African nations to be free from colonial rule. As a result of the collective effort of African countries through the AU, other African countries efforts to attain their own independence were rejuvenated and now 54 years later African countries can attest to the big influence that the Africa Union played in freeing the African continent.
Women’s right to vote
The first record of women’s suffrage on the African continent dates back to the year 1930 when white South African women were allowed to the same right to vote as their male counterparts. Prior to this women of all races were not allowed to take make decisions concerning their political leadership. In 1945, Senegalese women won the right to vote and thereafter other African countries began to allow their womenfolk more political rights. Now not only can women vote, but women can also aspire to hold public office and run for presidency! With rights not being a limiting factor, the sky can only be the limit for the ambitious woman.
Access to education
Although Africa still lags behind in terms of educational standards, the strides made by African countries to ensure that African children have access to education should not be taken lightly. In April 2000, over 1 100 participants from 164 countries convened in Dakar, Senegal for the World Education Forum where the Dakar Framework for Action which promoted education for all was adopted. More forums have been organised since and there has been a marked improvement in student enrolment in many African nations.
These are just a few of my own reasons why today was a special day for me as an African woman. There are no doubt a lot more reasons why Africans should celebrate Africa Day that I have not listed above and viewers are encouraged to share their own reasons in the comments below.