Monday, May 26, 2014

African Liberation Day 2014: worldwide solidarity with African Independence

By Charles Brooks

May 25th marks the worldwide celebration of African Liberation Day. Yes – African Liberation Day and although you will not find no mention of this in any of the American mainstream press – nevertheless, African Liberation Day is indeed a worldwide celebration. In addition to a continent wide celebration in Africa, there are also celebrations taking in France, Martinque, Trindad, Ireland, Melborne, Australia, Norway, and Sweden. In Africa, The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions in Limpopo will host a joint Africa Day with the Labour Federation from Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, jazz concerts taking place in South Africa and Malawi, a workshop on African Unity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and many more events planned.  May 25th is indeed a significant day to remember the African nationalist movements that demanded and then wrested independence from their colonial masters. 

Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, former secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) recently spoke at the Annual Thabo Mbeki Foundation Africa Day Lecture.  At the Africa Day lecture, Mr. Salim told the gathering,”…As we are all very much aware that on Africa Day, we formally commemorate the creation of the Organisation of the African Unity in 1963, 51 years from this Sunday, as well as the inception of its successor, the African Union, just 12 years ago. Obviously, these landmark occasions signify the achievements of our liberated continent, the collective assertion of freedom, equality, and a distinctly pan-African identity as we reflect on our colonial past and as we define the future direction 
for our individual countries and our continent as a whole.  We also take this day to honour the countless lives that were dedicated to our struggle, those whose contributions shall for ever continue to inspire us and remain indispensible in our collective efforts to realise a peaceful, stable, prosperous, and united Africa, much sooner than later,” 
Mr. Salim continues, “The African continent left behind by the likes of Kwame Nkrumah; Gamal Abdel Nasser; Julius Nyerere; Ahmed Ben Ben Bella; Modibo Keita; Aboubakar Tafawa Balewa; Emperor Haille Sellasie; Kenneth Kaunda; Jomo Kenyatta; Patrice Lumumba; Amilcar Cabral; Eduardo Mondlane; Agostinho Neto; Sylvanus Olympio; Sir Milton Margai; Felix Houphouet Boigny; Leopold Sedar Senghor and your very own Oliver Tambo; Robert Sobukwe; and our recently departed hero, Tata Nelson Mandela, just to mention a few who constituted the “Freedom Generation”…

It’s fitting that just in the last week, since May 19th there were a number of celebrations and events marking the 89th birthday of Malcolm X and seven days later we celebrate African Liberation Day.  Let’s consider for a few moments, Malcolm’s comments on Africa – our relationship with and to Africa: “Now what effect does (the struggle in Africa) have on us? Why should the Black man in America concern himself since he’s been away from the African continent for three or four hundred years?  Why should we concern ourselves? What impact does what happens to them have upon us? Number one, you have to realize that up until 1959 Africa was dominated by the colonial powers.  Having complete control over Africa, the colonial powers of Europe projected the image of Africa negatively.  They always project Africa in a negative light: jungle savages, cannibals, nothing civilized.  Why then it was no negative that it was negative to you and me, and you and I began to hate it.  We didn’t want anybody telling us anything about Africa, much less calling us Africans.  In hating Africa and in hating the African, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it.  Because you can’t hate your origin and not end up hating yourself.  You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself, argued Malcolm X. “

All across the country, there were black communities celebrating African Liberation Day in 2014 - Dallas, Chicago, Brooklyn, Detroit, Oakland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Baltimore & Washington DC to name a few examples. In Washington D.C, there’s a radio show - Africa Now - who’s holding a month-long celebration of “African Liberation Month”.   The African Liberation Day programs included cultural as well as politically centered events.  Programs designed to remember the African nationalist movements and the revolutionary organizations and individuals who secured independence from colonial masters.  But also to bring attention to some of current challenges and the need to bring our independent critical thinking to the table - question the recent and sudden barrage of news coverage of Boka Haram, Western "morality" and subsequent military intervention.  In addition observing ALD provided yet another opportunity to show solidarity with the African people while advancing the struggle around racism, immigration, & reparations.  In his classic work, Class Struggle in Africa, Kwame Nkrumah wrote: "All people if African descent, whether they live in North or South America, the Caribbean or in any part if the world are Africans and belong to the African world."

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