Today, #AfricaDay is celebrated by all African Union countries and others on the continent, and by Africans around the world.
The Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) was established on the 25th of May 1963, to integrate all the African countries that had found independence and freedom from colonial rule. The day has been celebrated ever since, and today 55 years on, liberation from colonial oppression and exploitation is not all that is celebrated. Over the years, the celebrations follow a particular theme. In 2015, it was the ‘Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development.’ This year the theme is, ‘The year of Nelson Mandela’ celebrating the 2018 Nelson Mandela Centenary.
But, what does Africa Day mean to me?
As a white South African, I would have to be honest and say that I never knew the day existed, until a few years ago. And sadly, I fear many white South Africans still don’t celebrate the day. Why that is sad is because if you live on this continent, you should be celebrating it! It is not a national holiday in South Africa like in some other countries on the continent, which could contribute to the day’s low exposure. I’m not suggesting adding another public holiday to our existing dozen, but maybe this day is more important than some of the ones we celebrate currently.
Since the fall of apartheid and the dawn of our democracy in 1994, South Africa has officially been celebrating Africa Day. Over the past 24 years, so much has happened and so much has changed. As a nation, we have made progress in so many areas, and yes, we have messed up on others. So maybe for us South Africans, we should celebrate the progress we have made, and pledge to do better where we have messed up.
For me, the central theme of Africa Day is a celebration of my ‘Africaness.’ My heart and soul is African, like my fellow Africans.
Today, it feels good to be An African.
Bonus: I am an African