25 May – Africa Day. This is the date to pencil into your calendar and to organise a party to remember. It’s the day Africans everywhere get to celebrate their unity as a continent and as a people.
So what is Africa Day?
Africa Day celebrates the day when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU), was formed in 1963.
A little bit of history…
Between 1958 and 1963, a significant number of African countries gained independence. The newly-liberated countries felt the need to express solidarity with one another. So, on 25 May 1963, 32 African countries met in Addis Ababa to form the OAU. The organisation agreed to have an annual assembly and to celebrate Africa Day each year on 25 May.
Since 1963, 21 more states have joined. Today, the African Union has brought together the continent of Africa to address the challenges it has faced collectively, such as armed conflict, climate change, and poverty.
How is Africa Day celebrated?
Celebrations to mark Africa Day occur across the globe: in some African states, it is a designated national holiday. The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe all get the day off to celebrate.
But, that doesn’t mean the rest don’t join the party with concerts, art exhibitions and talks to mark the day. Internationally, Africa Day is celebrated in diverse cities – such as New York, London, Dublin and Washington – which host academic and cultural gatherings.
Some things you didn’t know… or did you?
- Although years in the making, the African Union was officially launched in Durban, South Africa, in 2002, and 10 years later former South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the first female chair of the AU Commission (the AU’s administrative arm).
- Ghana became the first African country south of the Sahara to gain independence on 6 March 1957. Its independence served an inspiration to other African countries struggling against colonial rule and as a result Ghana occupied a central role in the struggle against colonial rule.
- In Lesotho, Africa Day is also known as Heroes’ Day.
- In Gambia, Africa Day coincides with the birthday of President Yahya Jammeh.
Show us how you’ll #DoAfricaDay
Africa Day gives everyone the opportunity to consider Africa as a whole continent, with all its different people, languages and geographies… What makes you unique? What unites you?
People across the continent celebrate in different ways. We would love to see pictures of how you celebrate this special day and what makes you and your country uniquely African. Post your pictures on our Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AmadeusAfrica/) or on Twitter with the hashtag #DoAfricaDay.