Monday, May 27, 2013

Africa Shakes the World

Africa shakes the world

Monday, 27 May 2013 00:00
Zimbabwe Herald

Celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity and African Union attracted rave reviews in major newspapers, magazines, radio and television
stations and on-line publications across the globe.

Every day in the build-up to May 25, Africa Day, various papers dug into Pan African issues narrating the long and winding journey to the formation of the OAU, now the AU while others reflected on the last five decades harping on major topical issues on prospects, future and the challenges confronting Africa.

Other reports gave penetrating analysis on the weaknesses of the Pan African body, the threats to Pan Africanism while some steered clear of more controversial issues and paid tribute to the resilience of the African people in the wake of a global onslaught against them on the social, economic and political front.

There was also numerous reference to Pan Africanism — its definition, significance and relevance in the globalised world as well as mourning of the declining commitment to the ideals of Pan Africanism by the “i-pad” and “Facebook” generation steeped in consumerism and other trendy lifestyles.

Conferences, symposiums, music festivals, food and fashion cultural festivals, workshops and a series of all sorts of gatherings were made to pay tribute to the founding of the Pan African body, now known as the AU.

“The 50th anniversary of the founding of the OAU is an occasion for celebration and is also an occasion for reflecting and making new resolutions,” Dr Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst told audience at a University of Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies public lecture which was held under the theme: “Fifty Year Journey of the OAU/AU: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects.”

“I share the optimism for Africa but I think we need to highlight the challenges equally.”  Echoed Kwame Ture in an on-line blog: “Pan Africanism is Power: We must unite. African liberation day for us is only an instrument to help organise our people.”

In Jamaica, at least three events were organised to celebrate the Africa Liberation Day.

All three events feature stage shows and saw Jamaicans celebrating freedom through music.

Celebration featured African drumming and dance music performances by Mutabaruka, Warrior King, Mikey General, The Informative History Man and Mau Mau among other artistes.

Jamaicans also held panel discussions on the day under the theme: ‘Developing African-Centred Consciousness as a Means for Community Empowerment and Development in Jamaica’ and another entitled: “‘Reflecting on the Pan-Africanist Movement of the Sixties to Chart a Path Forward in the 21st Century.’

“Various community organisations have hosted African Liberation Day since the 1970s in Jamaica, and the University of West Indies (UWI) has the distinction of hosting one such event in 2012.

“This year being the 50th anniversary of African Liberation Day offers a great opportunity, in my opinion, for UWI to provide both a special educational and cultural programme to commemorate the occasion,” said Dr Michael Barnett of UWI, who organised the celebration in a report.

Howard University and various other universities and groups in the US organised diverse activities to celebrate the African Liberation Day.

Various newspapers such as the Black Star News reported on a number events that were held in New York to pay special tribute to Pan African heroes in the Diaspora who played a tremendous role in promoting education and black civil rights and other Pan African cultural activities.

“The UZ is launching the lecture series to help promote a culture of dialogue, negotiation and tolerance,” said UZ Vice Chancellor Prof Levy Nyagura.

“Its important to share the dreams of our forefathers who founded the OAU. Its important to take stock of the past 50 years of the OAU and share the experiences with the younger generation.

“Most of the issues that were echoed by our forefathers in 1963 when the OAU was founded are still relevant today.

“The question we have to ask ourselves is how far we have gone in realising Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of a united Africa.”

Even though the OAU was rebranded to the AU in 2002, Africa Day is essentially commemorated by Africans at home and abroad to commemorate the hard-fought achievement of winning freedom from European colonial powers.

“Symbolically, it’s a celebration of African unity,” once observed Dr Carolyn Haggis, an instructor and African Union expert at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS).

“The celebration began with the independence movements of the late 1950s and early 1960s, to mark “the willingness of . . . newly independent African countries to commit collectively to confronting colonialism and apartheid on the continent with the aim of achieving full independence for all Africans.”

Celebrations to mark the day take various formats that include formal gatherings with panel discussions, street marches, speeches by political and social leaders, university lectures, and rallies featuring cultural entertainment, poetry, and other music dance performances.

In various parts of the globe, many observe the day by attending symposiums to discuss political and social issues relevant to Pan African communities.

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