International Day for People of African Descent is observed on August 31 each year. This holiday was created by the United Nations to celebrate the diverse heritage and several contributions of people of African descent. The African diaspora has long been recognized for its spirit and contributions to art, culture, science, and other fields, and it continues to mark a distinctive presence and positive impact in several parts of the world. On this day, we honor a vibrant culture and an international community while celebrating their values and contributions.
History of International Day for People of African Descent
The International Day for People of African Descent was created only recently by the United Nations and is set to be celebrated internationally for the first time this year. This first observance comes in the midterm of the International Decade for People of African Descent, another U.N. initiative. This has largely influenced the creation of this holiday. According to the U.N., 2020 marked the year of a significant change in the way issues of discrimination and marginalization against people of African descent are addressed on a global scale.
Over the last few decades, several efforts have been made to shed light on issues affecting African communities and people of African descent worldwide, as well as efforts to improve the situation for many of these communities. This holiday also commemorates the numerous contributions of people of African Descent. From art and literature to science and research, the African diaspora has had a significant positive impact. African communities, in all their richness and diversity, have left their mark on many parts of the world.
According to the UN, there are approximately 200 million people in the Americas who identify as being of African descent. In commemoration of this day, the U.N. hopes to further enable the pillars of the International Decade for People of African Descent; recognition, justice, and development. This celebration also aims to provide an opportunity for people to learn more about African heritage and culture through film, dance, music, and art presentations organized on the holiday, as well as other manifestations of political and scientific contributions of people of African descent.
International Day for People of African Descent timeline
The abolitionist movement is one of the hallmarks of African-American history and a precursor to Black liberation movements.
The N.A.A.C.P. is one of the most significant foundations in preserving African American heritage in the U.S.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leads the civil rights movement into a pivotal historical moment for African Americans.
Nelson Mandela wins the first post-Apartheid general elections in South Africa, becoming its first Black president.
International Day for People of African Descent FAQs
What are the principles of the International Day for People of African Descent?
This international observance aims to advance social justice and promote inclusion and human values. The principles of the International Decade of People of African Descent are recognition, justice, and development.
What makes African culture unique?
Diversity is one of the main characteristics of African culture. It is a rich cultural landscape, which varies from one place to another. There are many cultures, tribes, languages, and traditions present throughout African nations.
How many people of African descent are there?
In recent years, there are many estimates for this figure, notably around 1.3 billion people.
How to Observe International Day for People of African Descent
Visit museums and memorials
There are many museums dedicated to African history and heritage around the world. Cultural centers of African nations often organize panel talks, activities, and workshops dedicated to the topic. This would be an ideal destination during this holiday.
Check out African artists
The vast repertoire of literature, art, music and film by African artists around the world is indeed a canon of its own. Discovering an eclectic collection of stories and musings can be an exciting and rewarding experience, perfect for this observance.
Read about the history
One of the main objectives of this holiday is to engage with stories from African history and lessons we can take away from them today. This is also a significant way to understand the stories of African communities.
5 Amazing Facts About African Heritage
First fishing expedition
Early Africans organized the first fishing expedition 90,000 years ago and were also the first to engage in mining and develop early arithmetic.
Richest person in history
Mansa Musa was a 14th-century Mali king who is best known today as the richest person in history — he was also known for his generous donations and patronage of the arts and sciences.
Birthplace of humanity
The early humans are believed to have emerged two million years ago in Africa.
Hub of education
Several African empires were at their peak during the medieval period, and many of their cities became renowned hubs of education and universities, such as the Sankoré Madrasah in Timbuktu, which had around 25,000 students at the time.
Early checks used in Ghana
Around the 10th century, merchants in West Africa were familiar with checks and banking, according to one historian, who mentions the use of a 42,000 dinar cheque in Ghana around 951 A.D.
Why International Day for People of African Descent is Important
Issues of social justice deserve recognition
This holiday is a reminder that many communities around the world still face issues of social injustice and exclusion. Despite the numerous initiatives and efforts, many of these issues are worthy of attention.
It advances the values of humanity
Like most U.N. initiatives, one of the main goals of this observance is to promote exchange and cooperation between different communities. Honoring African communities, as well other marginalized groups, is an important step towards shedding light on the social issues facing this objective.
It honors the culture of a historically marginalized community
African culture is one of the most diverse cultural landscapes. From the extensive history of artistic creation to the many contributions to human civilization, African communities have always had a marking presence, despite a history of exclusion and hardships.
International Day for People of African Descent dates