Today is Africa’s Day, the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which by a general consensus among its leaders on May 26, 2001 became known as the Africa Union Day.
On this special day, Africans at home and in the diaspora celebrate the day with ‘unity’ as the watchword.
Africa won her independence from the yoke of colonial powers through the genius and bravery of the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nelson Mandela to name but a few and we very much would want to revisit some sayings of theirs which are as relevant today as they were in the past.
1. “We must unite now or perish… We must recognise that our economic independence resides in our African union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement.” – First President and Prime Minister of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah in his address at the founding of the OAU, Addis Ababa, 1963.
2. “Unite we must. Without necessarily sacrificing our sovereignties, we can forge a political union based on defence, foreign affairs and diplomacy, and a common citizenship, an African currency, a monetary zone and a central bank. We must unite in order to achieve the full liberation of our continent.” – Kwame Nkrumah.
3. “Yet all stock exchanges in the world are pre-occupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ore. We have been too busy nursing our separate states to understand fully the basic need of our union, rooted in common purpose, common planning and common endeavour”. – Kwame Nkrumah.
4. “We spoke and acted as if, given the opportunity for self-government, we would quickly create utopias. Instead injustice, even tyranny, is rampant”. – Julius ‘Mwalimu’ Nyerere, first President of Tanzania, as quoted in David Lamb’s The Africans, New York, 1985.
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5. “The evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes. Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!” – Thabo Mbeki former President of South Africa, “I Am an African” speech delivered on 8 May 1996.
6. “I am an African. I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land”. – Thabo Mbeki, “I Am an African” speech delivered on 8 May 1996.
7. “We know that Africa is neither French, nor British, nor American, nor Russian, that it is African. We know the objects of the West. Yesterday they divided us on the level of a tribe, clan and village…They want to create antagonistic blocs, satellites…” – Patrice Émery Lumumba, speech at the All-African Conference in Leopoldville, August 25, 1960.
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8. “These divisions, which the colonial powers have always exploited the better to dominate us, have played an important role — and are still playing that role — in the suicide of Africa”. – Patrice Lumumba, African Unity and National Independence speech, March, 1959.
9. “Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children…” – Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, written 1965.
10. “Africa’s story has been written by others; we need to own our problems and solutions and write our story”. President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, 2013.
How relevant is Africa's day to you?