Africa Day: what was Ghana’s role in its formation?

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Today, Africans all over the world mark Africa Day and today mark exactly 60 years since the decision to commemorate the day annually was made. But how did the day come by and what role did Ghana play in bringing it to fruition? What is the purpose of even celebrating the day?

In 1958, while serving as the Prime Minister of Ghana, a year after the country’s independence from British colonial rule, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah convened a meeting of African Independent States in Accra. The meeting was attended by representatives from Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon and Egypt which was part of the United Arab Republic at the time.

So in Accra, Ghana on April 15, 1958, these states gathered and their goal was to brainstorm on the progress of African liberation from colonial rule and also lead the cause to help the rest of Africa’s colonized states to gain independence. The conference proposed the creation of African Freedom Day “to mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolise the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation”.

Five years later on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 30 African nations convened to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The OAU formation was preceded by the Casablanca Group and Monrovia Group’s era. But soon after the groups came to a compromise, the union was formed.

That led to the establishment of May 25, as the official day to celebrate Africa Liberation Day which was the new name following from its former name Africa Freedom Day. The next day on May 26, 29 of the 30 countries signed the charter to form the OAU with the exception of Morocco. Since then, the OAU has changed its name to African Union (AU) as of 2002 but the day has remained and is marked annually.

In 2023, the theme for Africa Day is “Our Africa, Our Future”. The day is observed as a national holiday in countries such as The Gambia, Mali, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Ghana and its first Prime Minister and President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah played the pivotal role of kickstarting the unionization of Independent African States and pushing for the liberation of all of Africa.

Also, it must also be noted that the Pan-African Congress since its establishment in 1900 was also leading the charge for the liberation of Africa.

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