Africa Day is celebrated annually on 25 May to mark the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963 and the African Union (AU) in 2002. On this day, the African Union chart the progress made by the continent to advance democracy, peace, stability and socio-economic development.
Below are 11 things you need to know about this day;
- Seventeen countries gained independence from European colonizers between 1958 and 1963, and to mark their liberation, several states started celebrating African Liberation Day around that time.
- The newly-liberated countries felt the need to express solidarity with one another, and in May 1963, 32 African countries met in Addis Ababa to form the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU). It was a major political force on the continent until the 1990s.
- Since 1963, 21 more states have joined, notably South Africa, who only became part of the organization in 1994 following the end of white-minority rule.
- South Africa is a founding member of the African Union, which evolved out of the OAU.
- The OAU became the African Union because of the increasingly economic, rather than political, nature of the challenges faced by the continent in the 1990s.
- The OAU was replaced by the African Union (AU) on 26 May 2001, with the belief that some of the structures and aims of the OAU were out of date and out of step with the reality of current Africa.
- Ironically, the African Union was officially launched in Durban, South Africa, in 2002, and 10 years later former Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the first women chair of the AU Commission.
- The current chairman of the African Union is Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
- The AU remains headquartered in Addis Ababa, and it’s legislative arm, the Pan African Parliament, is in Midrand, South Africa.
- While Africa Day is a national holiday in some African countries, it is widely commemorated.
- The theme for this years’ Africa Day is; “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”.
Sixteen years down the line, has the AU fully embodied the spirit of Pan-Africanism – What is your thought on this?
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