It is a celebration of culture, a celebration of history, and a celebration of unity. Both on the African continent and around the globe, Africa Day is marked by parades, festivals, and more.
A little history will shed light on its origin and meaning.
A movement towards Pan-Africanism or the joining together of diverse independent African countries began in 1963 with the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Its founding followed the decolonization and independence of 17 countries from European powers between 1958 and 1963. Representatives from 32 countries met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that year to officially state their solidarity. (1)
It was Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first prime minister, who along with the leaders of 3 other African countries, founded the OAU. (3) Its goals were mainly political and multifaceted in the organization’s early days. The goals included ridding the continent of any remaining colonization and apartheid, promoting solidarity and protecting the sovereignty of member states, collaborating on development, and encouraging international cooperation. (4)
Around this time, several countries began celebrating a day of African unity called African Liberation Day.
Fast forward to 2001, and the organization had grown, taking in 21 more independent countries and transforming from a political to more of an economically-focused organization. The name, too, had changed. It was now called the African Union. (1)
African Liberation Day evolved to African Day. It has become a channel for many cultures to come together and honor their diversity and the goals of the African Union. In several countries including Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Mali, Africa Day is designated as a public holiday. (2)
Other countries, such as South Africa, have found alternative ways to mark the noteworthy growth of the African continent - keeping their eyes on future growth they would like to see. At Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the African Union flag flies along with the flags of the 54 countries of the union. South Africans were also encouraged to learn the African Union anthem. (4)
A celebration in Tanzania includes cultural performances, a food bazaar featuring traditional cuisine, exhibitions and a concert featuring musicians from the DRC, Mozambique and Namibia. (6)
Africa Day is celebrated on other continents too. Some Africans living abroad gather in cultural garb, listen to traditional music and trade recipes. (3)
The Irish celebrate Africa Day in several cities including Dublin where an annual family event takes place. It includes live music featuring both Irish and African musicians, traditional African drumming and dance workshops, and African arts and crafts. (5)
It is clear from Africa Day that the culture from the multitude of African countries carries far and wide.