African Liberation Day, aka Africa Day, on May 25 is an annual celebration of African sovereign rule, independence, and African identity. African states founded the Organization of African Unity and sought collaboration and co-existence with neighboring countries that had also recently driven away their colonizers. Countries from all over the continent hold this day in high regard as it speaks to their past, present, and future as nations. African Liberation Day belongs to Africans of all creeds and classes for they are one nation.
History of African Liberation Day
African Liberation Day was first celebrated in Accra, the capital of Ghana, in 1958. In its first year, only eight African nations were independent and able to participate. This led to the first independent African states banding together as neighbors and allies, with the convening of the Congress of Independent African States. Africa was soon quite rapidly “decolonized” by western powers leaving the continent, some by force and others more voluntarily.
The purpose of the celebration and the day itself was to hold a candle to the damage that colonialism had done to Africa and African unity as a whole. It was an attempt to rebuild that sense of continental identity and unity.
Remember, there were no borders, or maps of African territories before colonizers arrived and arbitrarily divided up the land. African Liberation Day, therefore, shoots down all borders between Africans and says, “your home is now free and it is yours.”
Year after year since 1958, more African countries joined the celebrations. Today, they number 54 in total. African Liberation Day was and still is an important political movement for Africans who remain severely burdened by colonialism’s impact even after decades of independence.
Over time, the Congress of Independent African States evolved into the Organization of African Unity, and then more recently in 2002, it evolved even further into the African Union. Africa has undergone countless significant conflicts, and peaceful political intervention through collaboration has always been at the heart of African policy.
African Liberation Day timeline
The first massive conflict between imperial England and an African State proves how desperate communities were for self-governance.
With penicillin, Western forces can now enter Africa with medicine that will help them combat the foreign illnesses that had previously prevented them from acting effectively on the continent.
African nations fight their second world war and this war significantly highlights human rights and sovereign rights for all African nations as they fight to defend others' rights rather than their own rights.
Although not African, India is rewarded with independence for the part it plays during World War II, which creates expectations among Africans for the same recognition.
The long-awaited dissolution of European expansionism in Africa finally comes and the next half of the century witnesses more countries following suit.
Namibia gains its independence, bringing the colonial rule on the continent to an end.
African Liberation Day FAQs
I’m not African, can I celebrate African Liberation Day?
Sure thing. Any day that celebrates people’s freedoms and rights over their land is a day worth celebrating.
What is a vuvuzela?
A traditional trumpet used all over Africa. It is frightfully loud, commonly made from plastic, and used to signify a time for fun and celebration.
Who started Africa Day?
On May 25, 1963, Africa made history with the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U.) the precursor to the African Union (A.U.).
How to Observe African Liberation Day
Colonization has left a lot of African countries suffering. Donate to organizations that support them.
There is so much to gain from a bit of cross-culture pollination, with new cultures and perspectives. Use this day as an opportunity to explore the diverse cultures of African peoples.
Africa is the second most populous continent on the planet. Learning more about African customs and history will give you a much more informed opinion about one of the world's most misunderstood continents.
5 Interesting Facts About Africa
A big continent
Most maps have a hard time acknowledging the scale of Africa, but it is the second-largest continent on the planet.
One of the wealthiest
Despite what you may read in economic reports, Africa is home to some of the vastest deposits of natural resources found anywhere on the globe.
Merciless colonial rule
Raw materials like rubber, timber, diamonds, gold, and ivory were exported on a mammoth scale and colonial powers wasted no time getting what they wanted out of Africa.
Namibia colonized by South Africa
To destabilize the German position in Africa, South Africa conquered Namibia during World War II and colonized it successfully, relinquishing its hold over the country in the early 90s.
Oldest independent African state
Founded in 1822, with the assistance of the American government, Liberia was demarcated and reserved for ex-slaves who wished to return to Africa, becoming the second black republic at that time in history.
Why African Liberation Day is Important
We’ve all had some link with Africa through our shared history. Looking at the achievements of the continent as a whole is a great way to get a bit of perspective on your own life and political landscape.
Expanding our world
For most, Africa is a distant land filled with lions and hippos, but it's so much more than that. Recognizing the people and their own identities, cultures, and nations means that you contribute to actively deconstructing African myths that are perpetuated in the world today.
Massive human rights achievements
No matter where you live, we all face some sort of oppression and unfairness in our day-to-day lives. African Liberation Day is a day that celebrates the triumph of oppressed people everywhere.
African Liberation Day dates