MAKE AFRICA LIB­ER­A­TION DAY A PUB­LIC HOL­I­DAY

Mole­batsi Masedi is a Polok­wane, Lim­popo based pro­po­nent of rad­i­cal so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. Tweeter: @ Mole­bat­siMasedi

African Times - - Perspectives -

On Fri­day South Africa joined the rest of Africa and the world to cel­e­brate the birth of free­dom from colo­nial­ism and the plun­der­ing of nat­u­ral re­sources and peo­ple. This was Africa Day, the day mark­ing the for­ma­tion of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of African Unity in 196, in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is cel­e­brated in Africa, as well as ev­ery­where in the world where Africans live or find them­selves.

The fore­run­ner of the OAU was in fact what was known as the First Congress of In­de­pen­dent African States. Con­vened by Kwame Nkrumah, the prime min­is­ter of Ghana, it in­cluded Egypt, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Su­dan, Tu­nisia and the Union of the Peo­ples of Cameroon. Apartheid South African was an ob­vi­ous ex­clu­sion, its pariah sta­tus had set in.

Among its key res­o­lu­tions was the call­ing for Africa Free­dom Day as a com­mit­ment to the free­dom of each and ev­ery square kilo­me­tre of the con­ti­nent.

From this in­au­gu­ral meet­ing of the African heads of lib­er­ated states, fol­low up meet­ings were held to keep up the full lib­er­a­tion peo­ple of the con­ti­nent. As coun­tries gained in­de­pen­dence one af­ter the other, they ap­plied and were granted mem­ber­ship of the OAU.

The strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion from colo­nial­ism es­ca­lated with con­crete sup­port from the OAU Lib­er­a­tion Com­mit­tee charged to mo­bilise re­sources for lib­er­a­tion move­ments across the con­ti­nent like the ANC. Most no­tably, mem­ber coun­tries like Zim­babwe, Mozam­bique, An­gola, Zam­bia and Tan­za­nia of­fered the coun­tries to ac­com­mo­date the South African lib­er­a­tion move­ment and its mil­i­tary wings. It pro­vided all the sup­port, in­clud­ing arms and mil­i­tary bases. For their sup­port to the strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion some of these coun­tries like Mozam­bique, Botswana and An­gola came un­der at­tack by the apartheid mil­i­tary. The OAU and its mem­ber states dug deep to usher free­dom to South Africa. We owe cur­rent sta­tus to their coun­tries of the con­ti­nent who stood fast be­hind us to the last. We will never do enough to re­pay our debt to Africa. Africa is our be­gin­ning, Africa is our be­gin­ning. In 1994 we joined the com­mu­nity of free African coun­tries, thanks to the sup­port of our brothers and sis­ters all over the con­ti­nent. It there­fore be­comes a tragedy when we turn against our own peo­ple in what came to be known as xeno­pho­bic at­tacks. Dur­ing these mo­ments of mad­ness we killed and maimed fel­low Africans.We killed our own peo­ple as we rolled the red car­pet for for­eign­ers who en­ter our shores through main air­ports. These dis­ap­pear into sub­urbs where our anger and frus­tra­tions don’t reach. There are out of harm’s way. These acts of vi­o­lence against other Africans un­der­pin our ig­no­rance of our his­tory and our root­ed­ness in the con­ti­nent of Africa. If we knew bet­ter we would be killing one an­other. We would be di­rect­ing our anger where it right­ful be­long and bring jus­tice for the past losses and harms.

Now that we are free and in charge of the coun­try we can do many things to re­store our humanity and that of ev­ery­body on the African con­ti­nent. We need to re­write our his­tory and pop­u­late it with our beau­ti­ful and heroic sto­ries. As the African proverb goes, if the lions do not have their own his­to­ri­ans, the story of the hunt will al­ways glo­rify the hunter. This is where we find our­selves at the mo­ment, we have our sto­ries told by oth­ers than our­selves.

Emp­tied of all con­tent by apartheid colo­nial­ism, we have turned against ev­ery­thing about our­selves in the form of his­tory, cul­ture and iden­tity. We look up to Europe for ev­ery­thing good, than to our own in Africa.No won­der Africa Lib­er­a­tion Day is item on the cal­en­dar of events in the Depart­ment of Arts and Cul­ture. Noth­ing much than flag wav­ing is done in com­mem­o­ra­tion of our his­tory and our quest for unity as en­vis­aged by our fore­bears. We have en­shrined in our na­tional cal­en­dar, days of no sig­nif­i­cance to our his­tory and iden­tity. We even adapted the day we grew up know­ing it to be Din­gane’s, when black peo­ple were ran­domly beaten up for ven­tur­ing in white pub­lic spa­ces.

To­day it is in our hands to re­claim our very be­ing.

And while at it, let us pro­claim Africa Day a pub­lic hol­i­day as it should be. We are an African coun­try, owe our free­dom to the col­lec­tive act of sol­i­dar­ity of the con­ti­nent. The final act of lib­er­a­tion will be the recog­ni­tion of our be­ing as Africans. It is the de­nial of our iden­tity that has seen oth­ers and not our­selves claim­ing our birth right of the con­ti­nent and its riches for their own. In this false story, Africa was with­out own­ers and there for the pick­ing. Africa had own­ers, its sons and daugh­ters.

As we call for the re­turn of the land, we should re­claim and cel­e­brate our iden­tity. Happy Africa Month to all in the con­ti­nent and in the di­as­pora. As pres­i­dent Ramaphosa cor­rectly put it, the re­turn of land is the restora­tion of the dig­nity of the dis­pos­sessed.

Let us re­claim our Africa Day. This doesn’t take time to do or to amend the con­sti­tu­tion. All it re­quires is the will to do it and the sig­na­ture of the at­ten­dant procla­ma­tion by the pres­i­dent. Africa Day would be a Na­tional Day in South Africa, along­side no­table days like Free­dom Day, Hu­man Rights Day, May Day, Youth Day, Women’s Day and Her­itage Day.

The coun­try, con­ti­nent and African Di­as­pora waits with bated breath for the day this be­comes of­fi­cial and we get to sing the Na­tional An­them of the African Union. We have the duty to re­alise the dream of our fore­bears who met in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, many years ago to form the OAU in the quest for African Unity and Re­nais­sance. Africa, the time has come.

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