Monday, May 25, 2015

Africa Day 25 May 2015
Vatican Radio

By the late 19th century, the whole African continent was under colonial rule by Britain, France, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

This is what is often referred to as a period of the ‘Scramble for Africa.’

The "Scramble for Africa" is the popular name for the invasion, occupation, colonisation and annexation of African territory by European powers during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. This period is also called the Partition of Africa and the Conquest of Africa.

In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under European control. By 1914 it was 90 percent of the continent, with only Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Liberia still being independent.

The Berlin Conference of 1884, which regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa is usually referred to as the starting point of the Conquest of Africa.

In 1914, when Germany and Italy were defeated at the end of the First World War, they lost their colonial territories in Africa to the victors.

To this day, Africa’s artificial boundaries drawn up during the partition of Africa continue to create wars and conflict. The boundaries were drawn across tribal lands.

With more countries gaining independence in the 1960s, there was a felt need, by the newly independent nations, for an organisation that would express collectively the aspirations of African people and their struggles. And so it came to pass that on 25 May 1963 African leaders meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia formed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).  Africa Day was thus born and through this day, Africans celebrate the cherished ideal of African unity.

To further cement the push towards a more unified Africa, the OAU decided in Lomé, Togo, in the year 2000, to expand and transform itself and some of its earlier ideals. Two years later, the OAU was officially disbanded. On 9 July 2002, in Lusaka, Zambia the OAU was reconstituted as the African Union (AU).

As almost all African countries are politically independent, Africa Day is becoming more of a day for awareness creation about matters African.  It has also become a platform for informing people about the political and developmental challenges of modern-day Africa.

The day has also a cultural dimension to it, that is, celebrating African life, culture, the gift of music, bright colours and art.


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