AfDB joins the rest of continent to observe Africa Day 2011
Africans in Africa and all over the world will celebrate Africa Day on Wednesday 25 May, and the African Development Bank – “Africa’s Bank” ever since the days of independence in the 1960s – will be joining in the celebrations.
Africa Day was originally known as “Africa Freedom Day” or “African Liberation Day”: The Day commemorates the founding of the Organization of African Unity on 25 May 1963 by the then 30 newly-independent African countries.
The OAU itself became the African Union in 2003, moving away from its original purely political orientation to a stance concentrating more on development and now working towards an African Economic Community.
This year, the day will be marked in Addis Ababa, where the AU is headquartered, with talks and meetings on the theme of Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.
Appropriately, the African Development Bank itself was established by the same founding fathers in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on 4 August 1963, as the economic wing of the OAU.
For 19 years, up to December 1982 when non-regional countries were eventually admitted as members, the Bank depended solely on subscriptions from African member countries.
“Africa Freedom Day” was initially founded during the first pan-African conference of independent African states, which attracted African leaders and political activists from various countries to Ghana on 15 April 1958.
Ghana happened to be the first African country south of the Sahara to secure independence from colonial rule on March 6, 1957. It became instrumental in the creation of various liberation movements that matured into the then “Casablanca” and “Monrovia” Groups of African countries under the OAU.
Despite internal and external conflicts, the OAU survived through various efforts to ensure sustainable political and economic development of the continent. Today, all the member countries of the African Development Bank, apart from Morocco which withdrew for the time being in 1984 due to the Western Sahara issue, are also members of the AU.
Africa Day is therefore celebrated not only in Addis Ababa, headquarters of the AUC, but also by many African countries and beyond including Ghana, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In some countries the day will be observed with activities such as formal gatherings with panel discussions; street marches; speeches by political and social leaders; special university lectures; rallies featuring cultural entertainment, poetry, and speakers.
In the United States the day is commemorated in form of symposiums, where people are invited to attend and participate in political and social issues relevant to US African communities. The anthem entitled “God Bless Africa” composed by Chief Charles O. Okereke is a keynote of the celebrations.
The theme of this year’s Africa Day coincides with one of AfDB side events to be organized by the Fragile State Unit (OSFU) during this year’s Annual Board of Governors Meetings in Lisbon, Portugal in June 2011.