On May 25th 1963, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia hosted 30 African States in Addis Ababa. At this meeting, the Organisation of African Unity was formed. This was as a response to the conference held five years earlier, convened by the then Prime Minister of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. During this meeting, there was a call for the founding of an African freedom day. Five years later, the founding of the Organization of African Unity made that dream possible. There was therefore going to be an African day. In 2002, the OAU was renamed AU, standing for African Union and despite this renaming, the celebration of the Africa Day hasn’t changed from May 25th over the years. 59 years later, African states have the semblance of celebrating what is supposed to be a major day in the history of their nationalism and unity and yet, they are greatly lacking in those aspects.
Has Africa evolved from the way they used to be 59 years ago and is there much progress or regression? Looking at the Africa of today, will Haile Selassie and Kwame Nkrumah be happy that their efforts have yielded fruits? Have we made the frontrunners of the nationalistic struggles proud? Even as we fight the nefast effects of colonialism and it’s newborn, neocolonialism, we know that we do all but what is supposed to be done. The African with each passing day drifts far and wide from his culture and identity. In an utopic Africa, this article would’ve been in Swahili or Bassa. But well…
On the last two editions of Africa Day, I wrote two long poems celebrating or illustrating Africa. But this year, I wasn’t sure that it is what I wanted to do. Apart from being lazy, I was pensive too. If I must write about this day in a piece of poetry, I should at least defend it. What is an Africa Day supposed to mean or be? Why celebrate it? If we are to answer these questions, we might as well add in a few more — Why do African countries celebrate the anniversaries of their independence? What are the benefits of this so-called independence? And yes, these are not-so-simple questions to answer. If we are being true to ourselves, we’d agree that most, if not all African countries have left from bad to worse. These 60 years and more of independence have plunged the continent into more chaos and anarchy than before the departure of the white man — that’s if he ever truly left..
So what therefore is the essence of celebrating an Africa Day if in truth, Africans are losing their Africanness? Or maybe, we never even had it in the first place. On this Africa Day, we celebrate the AU building that was donated and built by the Chinese. We also celebrate the fall of Khadhafi and the turmoil in Libya. We also appreciate the instability in the Sudans, in Somalia, in former West Cameroon and in Northern Nigeria. On this Africa Day, we must assert that we have failed our founding fathers woefully. They must shake their heads from the afterlife and laugh at what mockery we have made of their original ideologies. And in our divisiveness, we don’t deserve to celebrate Africa Day. Maybe we can start by being and behaving like Africans in the first place. Maybe we should have our backs like the other races do. Maybe we should start by ousting our power greedy dictators. Maybe we must create genuine bilateral and multilateral relationships between us. Because if we celebrate Africa Day as separate entities rather than the Africa we should be, then we have no business celebrating it in the first place.
So go my brother, without no bother and be my keeper in the face of danger. Shield me from the trauma, save me from the fire. And when all is over, be glad oh Soldier. — Get Set