On 25 May 1963, Africa made history with the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Although it is on record that the organization was founded by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, it is believed that Tanzania's Julius Nyerere, Guinea's Sékou Touré and Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda played important roles in the formation of the organization.
The move which was adopted by 32 independent nations at the time of its formation has been considered by critics as a step in the right direction. Since its formation, 21 more nations have joined the organization. Interestingly, in 2001, the OAU was changed to African Union (AU), a move that many critics believe destroyed the essence and ethos of the organization.
To commemorate the formation of the OAU, May 25 every year was adopted as Africa Day. The day (hoped to be a holiday across Africa) was intended to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
It was believed that a commemoration of the formation of the OAU will keep Africans around the globe in remembrance of Africa’s struggle against colonialism and apartheid while reflecting upon the common challenges that the continent faces in a global environment.
Sadly, African leaders over time have not lived up expectations in making the day. Despite the recognition of May 25 by the United Nations as Africa Day, the majority of Africans in the continent and diaspora are not aware that such a day exists. The day has gradually become Africa’s forgotten most important holiday.
Critics have hit out at countries whose leaders congratulate foreign countries on celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Haloween but failed to recognize such a significant day such as Africa Day. Apart from a few African Nations, the day is not recognized in the media in many countries.
However, one country that has always marked Africa Day is South Africa. As has been its tradition, South Africa will mark Africa Month and Africa Day. According to authorities in the country, the month is an opportunity to promote African unity, deeper regional integration, and recommit Africa to a common destiny.
To mark the day, the country has lined up various activities – although the majority of the events will be held virtually as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. One of the events lined up for this year’s celebration is the Africa Day Benefit Concert At Home, which will be hosted by Idris Elba. The concert, which will feature artists such as Angelique Kidjo, Burna Boy, AKA, and many others, is set to be streamed on MTV Base platforms to raise funds to help in the continued fight against COVID-19 in Africa.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the Fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Last year's theme was "Healthy Lifestyle Prolongs Life", it focused on highlighting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle; while the theme in 2018 was "The Year of Nelson Mandela–Building a Better Africa and a Better World".
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