Designated as a public holiday in many African nations, Africa Day has been celebrated every year since 1963.
Africa Day is also a timely opportunity to focus on the cooperative, socio-economic success stories from across the continent, and a chance to reflect on the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) - which eventually became the African Union (AU).
The AU is a pan-African organization, bringing together representatives from 55 African countries, to discuss political and social issues, culture and global perspectives, producing initiatives and policies to tackle the many universal African problems.
One sector where the African Union has made excellent, inter-African progress is peacekeeping. The 2011 AMISOM peacekeeping initiative in Somalia brought together many different personnel from different African nations, actively helping to liberate Mogadishu from al-Shabaab control.
Many of these partnerships have been conducted with the cooperation and support of international partners, including the U.S. and U.N.. Since 2011, the continued AMISOM presence has helped to establish a period of relative peace, protecting two transitional governments, two federal governments and two election processes.
This stability has empowered some Somali politicians to address the many internal issues and focus on the country’s development.
In 2020, the AU’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) held a media summit to showcase the Union’s collaborative successes, and also highlight how more could be done to promote the Union in Africa.
The council itself is elected, and provides African civil society organisations with a platform to influence AU policy. It also promotes the development of democratic values in Africa by providing a forum for ideas to be shared, as well as an opportunity for media outlets to interact with figures within the African Union Commission.
Despite the pandemic, Africa Day 2021 also saw a host of different initiatives that encouraged cross party, and pan national, cooperation.
The #ZeroMalariaStartsWithMeCampaign celebrated the African Union member states who have worked in partnership to close malaria knowledge gaps, and improve the participation of communities towards a zero infection rate.
To support the campaign, MTV Base, YouTube and the actor Idris Elba hosted the 2nd annual Africa Day concert to drive global action and support for ending malaria in Africa. The virtual Pan African event featured upcoming African stars from across the continent with messages of support and encouragement for sustainable action on how to eliminate Malaria.
The Women, Gender and Youth Directorate (WGYD) youth division partnered with TikTok and Trace TV to launch a campaign titled #IAmAfrican. The campaign aimed to celebrate and highlight the different and creative identities of young people across Africa through the lens of arts, culture, and heritage.
This year’s theme focuses on nutrition and the vital role that a more resilient, self-sufficient African food infrastructure will play in the shadow of the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
Since its launch over fifty years ago, Africa Day has become a genuine celebration for Africans and people of African descent all over the world.
Africa Day is also an opportunity for nations and citizens to reflect upon the true importance of the African Union and the successes that it has had.
By promoting positive, meaningful dialogue between states, and ambitions to reach peaceful solutions to conflict, the AU has become a vital organisation that instills democratic values on the African continent.