Africa Day

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Africa Day
Observed by African nations/peoples
Significance Anniversary of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity
Date 25 May
Next time 25 May 2017 (2017-05-25)
Frequency annual

Africa Day, formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day, is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963.


The First Congress of Independent African States, consisting of Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, met in Accra, Ghana, on 15 April 1968 at a summit convened by President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah. This was "to mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement in Africa and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation." Although the Pan-African Congress had been working towards similar goals since its foundation in 1900, this was the first time such a meeting had taken place on African soil. Also at the meeting, the first African Freedom Day was celebrated.[1]

This was followed up five years later on 25 May 1963, when representatives of thirty African nations met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted by Emperor of Ethiopia Halie Selassie. At the meeting, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded, with the initial aim set to encourage the decolonisation of Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. The organisation pledged to support the work conducted by freedom fighters, and remove military access to colonial nations. A charter was set out which sought to improve the living standards across member states, with Selassie pledging "May this convention of union last 1,000 years."[2]

The charter was signed by all attendees on 26 May, with the exception of Morocco whose delegation was present in an observatory capacity only, due to the attendance of Mauritania and the ongoing border dispute with that nation.[2] At that meeting, Africa Freedom Day was renamed Africa Liberation Day.[1] In 2002, the OAU was replaced by the African Union. However, the name and continued celebration of Africa Day was continued on 25 May in respect to the formation of the OAU.[3]

Contemporary celebrations[edit]

Africa Day continues to be celebrated both in Africa and around the world, mostly on 25 May, although in some cases these periods of celebrations can be stretched out over a period of days or weeks.[4] Themes are often set for each year's Africa Day, with 2015's being the "Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063". At an event in New York City, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson delivered a message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon which said, "Let us... intensify our efforts to provide Africa’s women with better access to education, work and healthcare and, by doing so, accelerate Africa’s transformation".[5]


  1. ^ a b "African Liberation Day: A celebration of resistance". Pambazuka News. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "1963: African states unite against white rule". BBC On This Day. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  3. ^ Allison, Simon (26 May 2015). "Africa Day: Is the African Union worth celebrating?". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  4. ^ "Kakadu for Africa Day celebrations". The Nation. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  5. ^ "Africa Day 2015 Celebrated in New York". United Peace Federation. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 

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