Africa Freedom Day

by Caroline Nenguke
Special to Global Wire

Africa Freedom day which falls on 25th May, is a day in which as Africans we observe the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and pay tribute to the Heads of State, who through a common vision of unity, decided to seek a joint African solution to the dichotomy facing Africa in the 1960s.

Forty-one years ago, leaders of the African Continent decided to establish the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Driven by a common aspiration towards de-colonisation, liberation, equality, justice and progress, an inter-African organisation of independent states was founded.

Africa Day exemplifies the achievements made by the various leaders on the continent with regard to the founding of the new African Union (AU), in establishing NEPAD and other continental developments, to address the challenges and ensure that the 21st Century truly becomes an African Century.

But as the continent celebrates this day it is with mixed feelings of having achieved less conflicts in the continent in the past year but on the other hand gross human rights violations including killings and rape continue in volatile areas. The poison of corruption too, continues to leave a bad taste in our mouths.

A 2006 report released by Amnesty International on the state of the world's human rights, says there has been encouraging progress towards conflict resolution in some areas of Africa but many places face political instability and serious risk of further conflict and violence.

Apart from the conflicts, the report also says some governments continue to deny their citizens rights to food, health, water and education. It singles out Zimbabwe's controversial clean-up campaign called Operation Murambatsvina last year, which the United Nations says left about 700 000 people homeless and destitute.

The situation in Sudan is not any better. The report says, "civilians were killed and injured by government troops, which sometimes bombed villages from the air, as well as the government-aligned nomadic Janjaweed militias". Three years of conflict in Sudan has left about 300,000 people dead and 2,4 million others homeless.

In northern Uganda, civilians continue to be victims of the 19-year-old fight between the government and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, leaving more than three million internally displaced and half a million refugees moving to the south.

Across in West Africa, there had been no progress in demobilising around 50 000 fighters under the Côte d'Ivoire’s peace process in the past year, while child soldiers continued to be used there and in the DRC.

Africa has overcome many obstacles and has begun building an Africa that belongs to all Africans, through partnership between governments and civil society, in particular women and youth in strengthening solidarity among Africans. Africa today is inspired by the principles of the Charter of the OAU, which is committed to peaceful settlement of disputes, economic and social development, respect for human rights, the protection of all Africans and to fight all oppression.

It is clear from the above that we still have a long way to go for the ideals of the OAU to be realised and for the equitable and just Africa that we want to see to become a reality. As we celebrate Africa day let us focus on the this years theme, "Together for Integration and Development" and as we do so, let us remind ourselves that we all have a role to play in realising Africa's dream. None of us can change Africa alone, but together we can make a difference.


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