Why African liberation day is worth celebrating and the role we can play

In January 2018, African heads of states and governments meeting in Addis Ababa under the African Union waxed lyrical about a plethora of our daily struggles.

They recalled, commended, urged, recognized, encouraged, stressed, appealed and welcomed a host of political, economic and social commitments and causes that continue to afflict us decades after independence. 

It was the same old story, the very ritual that tripped the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) before them, and condemned it to dustbin of history- more talk, less action, stagnation.

Each year, the commitments are made and “further stressed” or “reiterated” in the following year. And the cycle is supposed to continue, like Shakespeare says in one of his plays, to the last syllable of our recorded time.

To the AU 50th Anniversary 'Solemn Declaration' to end all wars in Africa by the year 2020, all the AU leaders did at the January 30th Ordinary session of the Assembly was to celebrate the near negligible gains made so far with guns still blaring in South Sudan, Somali and many other places in Africa.

They simply commended the AU Peace and Security Council for a largely moribund gun’s amnesty program least promoted by their members, encouraged, urged, stressed and appealed to countries to do more.

This is the same story replicated in AU dealings with all other factors hindering Africa’s rising- poverty, disease, ignorance, unjust exploitation by outsiders, modern slavery, corruption, bad leadership just to mention but a few.

It is the story of callous treatment of otherwise heavy matters of heart and the glossing of fundamental factors of growth by the very people entrusted with the responsibility of dealing with them.

That Africa is a rich continent is not in doubt. All eyes are now on Africa as the place that holds the wealth and the promise for the world in terms of opportunities for growth and expansion.

Ours is a story of a rich, diverse and powerful heritage that can knock off the narrative spurn on us by years of colonialism, slavery, exploitation and misuse by others. It is also the sad story of successive failures by African regimes to break the continent even from the burdens of the past.

When all is said and done, it comes back to the real sovereigns- the ordinary African men and women who endure the shame and indignity of daily struggles in a vast continent of immense potential and promise.

The proud African youth, the agile African woman and the resilient African child, these are the real heroes and heroines of this perpetual struggle to break from the indignities of the present world order.

Their tenacity to keep pushing on despite being failed by their governments is inspirational and the promise behind the shared vision of Kilimanjaro Declaration, a Pan African initiative of the people, for the people and by the people of Africa to make the final push to full liberation politically, economically and culturally.

Africans Rising, a Pan-African movement working for Justice, Peace and Dignity has united African individuals and groups to walk together in solidarity to build and pursue the 'Future we want', which is social inclusion, right to peace and shared prosperity.

Over two hundred and seventy-two representatives from across Africa and the African diaspora gathered in Arusha, Tanzania on 23 - 24 August, 2016 and committed to build a Pan-African movement that recognizes the rights and freedoms of their people.

Interestingly, most African governments either have no idea of African Liberation Day’s existence or they just don't take it seriously; years have gone by, yet we hardly hear of any celebration.

More than two-thirds of the countries in Africa continent had already achieved independence by 1963. Leaders from thirty-two independent states converged on 25 May, 1963 to form the organization of African Unity (OAU).

During this meeting Africa Freedom Day was renamed and declared Africa Liberation Day. The date too changed from 15 April to 25 May.  This day would be a reminder of peoples' hard-fought achievement of freedom from the European colonialism.

Since then, 25 May has been celebrated as Africa Day. We will be celebrating the 55th Anniversary of the African Liberation Day. 

The launch of Africans Rising movement in every African country on May 25, 2017 deepened the meaning of African Liberation Day, reinstated the Africa Day pride as well as provided a platform to echo the voices of all African pedigree pushing for a multitude of struggles to bring out a real impact in Africa, African diaspora and across the globe.

Through the initiative, Africans hope to expand space for civic and political action, push the ceiling in terms of women rights and freedoms, press for good governance and accountability and demand climate and environmental justice.

That we have functioning governments should not make us lose focus in this struggle. The governments are there, and must keeping pulling their weight in addressing the core of the issues afflicting Africans in their endeavors.

But is also the solemn duty of each and every well-meaning African to mobilize around this shared vision of common non-violent struggle and to assert inherent right to a better Africa.  

Everyone has a space and a role in this struggle. African heads of state and other leaders should keep this special date (May 25) in mind; can be marked as a public holiday for the continent. It is never late; let us start having celebrations of our hard-fought achievement of freedom from the European colonialism.

As the continent prepares to mark the African Liberation Day, let each and every one of us reflect on their role and space in this journey. Above everything else, let us- individually and collectively recommit ourselves to struggle to liberate Africa from all forms of domination and exploitation.

Ann Lorna Njagi is a Communications specialist and a trained Diplomat