Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (front row, centre right) poses for a group photo with leaders attending the African Union Summit, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)
The origins of this annual celebration of African identity, which first started at the 1958 Conference of Independent African States.
ACCORD celebrates Africa Day 2016, the progress that Africa has made, and the future that is being built.
The history of Africa Day stretched back over half a century and is intertwined in the collective history of the continent’s states. The date of 25 May commemorates the day that the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU), was formed in 1963, but the history stretches even further back.
A year after its independence Ghana under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah convened the first Conference of Independent African States on 15 April 1958. The conference called for the observance of African Freedom Day (or Africa Liberation Day), once a year in April and this marked the beginning of what would later be known as Africa Day. The conference called for an African Freedom Day to encourage and forge a common goal of fighting against colonial rule and to mark 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.
As more African countries became independent, the need for an organisation that would articulate aspirations of African people and their struggle arose. Consequently on 25 May 1963, leaders of 32 African nations converged in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and formed the OAU. The OAU thereafter changed the date of Africa Freedom Day from 15 April to 25 May to commemorate the founding of the organisation. In the same spirit, the formation of the African Union (AU) occurred in Durban, South Africa on 25 May 2001. South Africa itself had joined the OAU on 23 May 1994 as its 53rd member, following the first democratic election.
As an organisation ACCORD is humbled to make a contribution and play an ongoing part in the continent’s continuing journey. To celebrate Africa Day ACCORD held a staff lunch, with a shared meal representing the diversity within the organisation.