Africa Month: Celebrating the journey to african unity
The Organisation of Africa Unity, established in May 1963, made our continent the first to foster nation building through unity and freedom. To celebrate the OAU and its successor, the African Union, the Department of Arts and Culture hosts a series of events during Africa Month.
The Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) was founded on 25 May 1963, formed out of ideas sweeping the world. One was the pan-Africanism of the 19th and early 20th centuries, inspired by US intellectuals such as Martin Delany and WEB Du Bois.
ANC founder Pixley Ka Isaka Seme’s 1906 essay “The Regeneration of Africa” helped shape African unity. Later luminaries – Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere of Kenya, Sékou Touré of Guinea and Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda – promoted pan-African ideals.
The 21st century brought a new focus on the rights of Africa’s people. This led to the founding, in 2002, of a new organisation: the African Union. The AU – a union of peoples, not just leaders – renewed the commitment to democracy, gender equality, good governance and the rule of law.
Africa Month Festival of Ideas
The Festival of Ideas, an Africa Month colloquia programme, is framed in the broader theme of decolonisation. For some, decolonisation means a total and abrupt break from the past. Another school of thought cautions against deconstructing colonialism.
The festival recognises the political and cultural environment as one in which calls for decolonisation take precedence. Decolonisation cannot be separated from the radical economic transformation agenda. It is with these underpinnings that the colloquia programme has been developed.
Celebrating Africa’s liberation heritage
From 23 to 25 May, Arts and Culture will also host a roundtable with the proposed theme of “Roads To Independence: African Liberation Heritage – Towards an Integrated Southern African Road Map”. The discussion aims to reinvigorate Unesco and AU resolutions recognising liberation heritage as having outstanding universal value.
The South African chapter – the Resistance and Liberation Heritage project – is a national memory project aimed at commemorating, celebrating and educating, as well as preserving and providing a durable testament to South African’s road to independence.