Last Sunday (May, 25th) was Africa Day, also known as African Liberation Day; a celebration and Pan African movement that aims to raise political awareness about Africa and its communities around the world. This year I was delighted to commemorate Africa Day with Cambridge University at their ‘Africa Together’ event, organised by the Cambridge African Society.
The event ‘Africa Together’ wasn’t only an event about show-casing the best of Africa, but also gave speakers a platform to share their achievements, inspiring stories, and journeys, in addition to raising and discussing topical local and global issues impacting the continent.
I was honoured to be invited to speak alongside one of Africa’s leading fashion designers and icons Adama Paris on “Modern African Culture and Fashion: Reshaping an Industry”, and receive an award at the event for vision and insight into Africa’s role in global trends and popular culture.
One of my most treasured books is ‘The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey: Africa for the Africans’, which I first read in my late teens, and at a specific point in my life where I began to reflect and formulate my opinions about myself, my country and the future of my continent.
Garvey relates that though ‘the pen is mightier than the sword, the tongue is mightier than them both put together’; and with that, the recognition from Cambridge for my written work gives me great pride, whilst the position to speak on a panel alongside the heroes of our generation was a great honour, and responsibility I don’t take lightly.
In the words of the recently passed and forever cherished Maya Angelou:
“For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place”
A little history for you…
African Freedom Day was founded during the first Conference of Independent African States, which attracted African leaders and political activists from various African countries, in Ghana on April 15, 1958. Government representatives from eight independent African states attended the conference, which was the first Pan-African conference in the continent.
The purpose of the day was to annually mark the liberation movement’s progress and to symbolise the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.
Between 1958 and 1963 the nation/class struggle grew bigger in Africa and around the world. During this period, 17 countries in Africa won their independence and 1960 was proclaimed the Year of Africa. On May 25, 1963, 31 African leaders convened a summit meeting to found the Organization of African Unity (OAU). They renamed Africa Freedom Day as “African Liberation Day” and changed its date to May 25.