“The month of May is a celebration of what it means to be African; to deepen and expand our knowledge, engage in cultural exchanges and sharpen our ideas. It also means to come together as one.”
– African Seniors at Coronationville Rec. Centre on 25th May
The basic theme of the 2018 celebration of Africa Day for the African Union (AU) was to combat corruption— “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
Africa Day is celebrated both in Africa and around the world, mostly on 25th of May, since the first conference of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. Some pockets of the continent and throughout the world enjoy longer periods of celebrations stretched over a number of days or weeks. The OAU started out with three missions on hand:
- To co-ordinate and intensify the co-operation of African states in order to achieve a better life for the people of Africa.
- To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of African states.
- Eradication of all forms of colonialism and white minority from member states.
The 55th anniversary celebrations at the headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, had sessions featuring panel discussions, had an African bazaar that displayed cultural costumes and items of AU member states, as well as music concerts.
African countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Mali and Zambia celebrate Africa Day as a public holiday. Internationally cities including New York, Dublin, Melbourne, London and Washington engage in academic gatherings and cultural showcases to mark this day.
This year the theme for the celebration was recognized as “The year of Nelson Mandela: Civil Society Dialogue with African Migrants”.
The Chairperson of African Union Commission Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat gave a speech on the theme at the Nelson Mandela Hall, African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa on the 25th of May, 2018, as part of the celebration from 25th to 27th of May.
In his speech, Mahamat talked about the history of the formation of the African Union and the struggles it has faced. Mahamat reminded everyone of the progress that has been made by the Union, including the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market, as well as the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport. Mahamat wanted everyone to take pride in the achievements and remember how the OAU initiated the continental instruments that set Africa’s march towards democracy, greater accountability, faster development and deeper integration.
Other issues, which came under the spotlight at the Nelson Mandela Centre included immigration, crime, conflict, and the negative perception, associated with undocumented foreign nationals.
In another corner of the world, in Joburg a.k.a Johannesburg, as part of a tourism initiative, the city organized a three-day celebration from 24th to 26th of May. According to the SACC’s (South African Council of Churches) Reverend Gift Moerane, Johannesburg is home to thousands of African migrants, and the government needs to improve registry of all foreign nationals living in South Africa. Moerane encouraged foreigners living in South Africa to not create exclusive enclaves and engage with the locals more. Here too, Afrophobia was stressed on.
Panelists and participants in the dialogue under Joburg Tourism on 25th May included representatives of the SACC, community leaders, students, technocrats, and bureaucrats as well as officials of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The dialogue took place at the Foundation’s offices in Houghton.
Other events included a tour of Joburg, on 24th May, tracing Nelson Mandela’s footsteps in the city as well as a star-studded concert at Constitution Hill on 26th May, headlined by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Yemi Alade and Salif Keïta.
Johannesburg is home to thousands of African migrants from all corners of the continent. Most of them reside in the inner city, while some live in well-heeled neighborhoods and enjoy quality basic services. However, many others are marginalized and live on the peripheries of the economic hub. The City’s migrant policy is designed to ensure foreign nationals feel integrated into the fabric of the City and have their needs met.
University of Johannesburg (UJ) celebrated Africa Day with a pomp and show weekend where Langa Mavuso, Zoe Modiga and Steve Dyer Quartet and many others indulged the audience in urban jazz. From 25th to 27th May, the UJ held a Weekend Jazz Festival. The much in demand urban jazz has been described as ‘an emerging sub-genre, born of combining traditional elements of the form with other genres of music, in search of the grey areas of new and accessible forms’.
The weekend was concluded with an electrifying performance titled ‘Jazz Jam Picnic’ by Steve Dyer Quartet.
The festival also saw performances from Mandla Mlangeni, Jazz Cats, Sun Xa Experiment, and Bombshelter Beast.