The date 25 May 1963 is a momentous occasion in Africa’s history, as it marks the establishment of the Organization of African Unity, which is today known as the African Union. The purpose of this intergovernmental organisation is to foster stronger unity and solidarity among African nations and their citizens. Ever since, on 25 May, Africa Day has been widely celebrated, especially within the continent, as a symbol of Africa’s identity and collective strength.
As we honour Africa Day, and consider the significance of this wonderful continent, we want to highlight what this day means to some of our fellow African Youth Ambassadors in Brussels, and dive into the theme of this year’s celebration.
Keep reading to find out.
What theme is the African Union celebrating this year?
In this year’s celebration of Africa Day, the African Union has chosen “Acceleration of AfCFTA implementation” as it’s 2023 theme. The AfCFTA, which stands for the African Continental Free Trade Area, is a trade agreement that aims to create a single market for goods and services across Africa, benefiting almost 1.3 billion people and deepening economic integration across the continent.
The African Union focused on this theme for Africa Day as this agreement presents significant opportunities for African countries. With 54 African countries having signed the agreement, the AfCFTA is set to be the world’s largest free trade area, with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion. In addition to stimulating growth and enhancing economic inclusion, the AfCFTA is projected to lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty, according to the World Bank.
As climate change is having a growing impact on Africa, the AfCFTA is also developing climate-friendly approaches to realise less energy-intensive economic growth while keeping greenhouse gas emissions low, especially counting on its renewable energy sources. Indeed, a greater intra- and inter-regional power interdependency could reduce even further the dependence on traditional fossil fuels.
What does Africa Day mean to African Youth Activists?
Given the significance of Africa Day and the importance of this year’s theme, we asked a few of our fellow Youth Ambassadors in Brussels who are from Africa what this means to them. Here’s what they had to say. e“If I have to summarize in one sentence, I would say that Africa Day is for me a day to remember all of our achievements as Africans and as world citizens, but also to remember everything that we still have to do.”– Henriette Dushime
“I think Africa Day is important because it helps break stereotypes tainted on the African continent. There’s not only one side to Africa as sold by the media, there’s also another side full of happiness, togetherness, community, rich cultures, the landscape, entrepreneurial youths, music, art, minerals, innovation, strength, and resilience amidst the struggles. It’s a day to shine a light on the continent’s achievements, diversity, potential, and struggles.”– Winnie Nalubowa
“In the past, we celebrated with cultural dances showcasing the rich cultural heritage and the unexploited resources that make the African continent an irresistible site for investors, tourists, and researchers. We equally celebrated through debates that questioned the impact of the African Union in the health sector, education, and much more.” – Cynthia Akum Bih
“As I became aware of the significance of African Day celebrations, I actively participated in them, eagerly joining my fellow Africans in showcasing our vibrant culture. The gatherings served as a platform to exhibit our traditional dances, share our rich heritage through food, and present our unique customs to a global audience. These celebrations were vital because they shed light on Africa’s diverse cultures, educating others who were unfamiliar with our traditions. Through these events, we aimed to bridge the gap of understanding and appreciation for Africa’s culture, which is often misunderstood or overlooked by many around the world.” – Salwa Hassan Mohamed Ahmed
Africa Day serves as a reminder of Africa’s accomplishments, challenges, and enormous potential. It is a day to honour Africa’s rich cultural heritage, unity, and collective strength. Africa Day celebrates the diversity, resilience, and possibilities of the African continent, from unleashing economic potential through initiatives like the AfCFTA, to driving global climate change solutions and challenging stereotypes.