Learn the History Behind the Africa Day Celebrations

June 21, 2022

Learn the History Behind the Africa Day Celebrations

On March 25th the world celebrates Africa Day!

With culture, history, and traditions stretching back to the dawn of humanity and an expansive natural landscape teeming with wildlife, there are countless reasons to revere the rich African continent...

But, what is Africa Day really about? 

Keep reading to find out!

Africa Day is the annual celebration of May 25th, 1963, the day representatives from 32 African countries gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to establish the Charter of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which would later become the African Union (AU).

At that point in history, over two-thirds of the continent had achieved independence, primarily from imperial Europe. The OAU's paramount goals were to establish unity among African countries, support independence efforts in the remaining third of the continent still controlled by colonialism, and to promote political and economic cooperation in hopes that all African people could live freely and prosper.

Since its inception, the AU has pushed for improved protection of human rights across the continent and had many achievements which have reverberated to human rights movements and improvements across the world.

In 1981, the OAU unanimously accepted the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), which placed limitations on sovereign national authority on human rights matters.

In November of 1999, the OAU established the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), making Africa the only region with a charter pertaining specifically to children's rights and welfare.

In 2017, the ACHPR challenged the government of Kenya for their treatment of the Ogiek people. That year the court ruled that the Kenyan government had violated the rights of the native people by repeatedly removing them from their ancestral lands. This was one of the first times that a court in Africa recognize the rights of indigenous people to their land and resources, and is considered a hallmark case globally in the arena of how we manage the rights of all indigenous people.

These are just some of the AU's monumental achievements towards the protection of human rights and prosperity of the continent and its people.

It was on this day in 1963, that the first union of African countries was established and, in their honor, the people of Africa celebrate the anniversary of the Charter every year. They view it as an opportunity to promote African unity, celebrate achievements, and show their commitment to helping their continent continue to grow.

That is the inspiring history behind this holiday and why it is so beloved across Africa. It is a day to celebrate success, uplift and cherish the traditions and cultural histories of the past, and, in doing so, collectively dream of an increasingly bright future.

To learn more, check out these articles from Human Rights Watch and South African History Online that discuss more of the historical and modern impact of the African Union.

 

And to learn more about many of the African businesses and artisan groups that we work with, and local causes that they support in their home countries, please visit our blog page here.


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