The struggle to free Africa from foreign domination has a long and glorious history. From the very inception of European incursion into Africa in the 15th century to current times, Africans resisted the slave trade, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. These struggles have created many heroic figures and events which deserve recognition and celebration. African Liberation Day (ALD) widely known as Africa Day is one day dedicated to such recognition and celebration.
On April 15, 1958, the First Congress of Independent African States (at that time only Ghana, Sudan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Liberia, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia were independent) was convened in Accra, Ghana by Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana.
Thousands of representatives from liberation movements throughout Africa attended this conference including the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC). This was organized “to mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement in Africa and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.” It was at this conference that the first “African Freedom Day” was celebrated.
Convened and chaired by Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, on May 25, 1963, thirty two African Heads of State and Government met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). At this summit, African Freedom Day (15th April) became ALD or Africa Day (25 May).
Africa Day is when Africans celebrate the rich and diverse history of our continent and its people as we remember the inauguration of OAU on May 25, 1963. Africa Day also presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the state of the continent and the individual as well as collective roles each of us has to play for the realization of Africa’s integration and development.
Since its inception, Africa Day has not only been celebrated in Africa, but also in Europe, Caribbean Islands, Cuba, and U.S.A and even in the ex-Soviet Union countries. In some African countries like Zambia, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Ghana this day is a public holiday.
In other African countries like South Africa where it is not a public holiday, the day is officially recognised and the state partakes in national events to celebrate Africa Day.
However, in Malawi, 25th May is not a public holiday. Neither have there been state organized nor sponsored activities to celebrate Africa Day as it is the case in other African countries despite Malawi being the host of the Southern Africa sub-regional headquarters of the Africa Union (AU) for over a decade. Other writers and commentators have argued that this is one critical legacy of the foreign policy that Malawi pursued for three decades since independence in 1964 when Malawi chose a trajectory of consistently disobeying the OAU and its resolutions.
For instance, the OAU had resolved to exert international political pressure and boycott to ensure that South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Southern Rhodesia and Angola were liberated from colonial fetters. However, from 1964 upon joining the OAU, Malawi set itself in collision with OAU in this regard by openly starting to fraternize with colonial regimes of apartheid South Africa, Portuguese in Mozambique and Southern Rhodesia.
It is against this backdrop that the Lost History Foundation in collaboration with Saint Andrews International School have organized a lecture to be held on Saturday, 25th May 2019 at Saint Andrews International School in Blantyre to celebrate Africa Day.
During this lecture, as part of Lost History Foundation’s efforts to raise awareness on the most accurate portrayal of Malawi’s cultural, socio-economic and political history and where possible provide alternative perspectives of various aspects of the Malawi history, discussions will centre on critically interrogating why Malawi Government which was an OAU Member State, formulated and implemented a foreign policy (1964-1993) that was fundamentally anti-thetical to the aspirations and ideals of the OAU on the liberation of Africa which Africa Day essentially symbolizes.
Speakers at this event include: Comrade Conleith Sellenje from Lost History Foundation, Dr. John Chikago former ambassador of Malawi to the Republic of South Africa and Comrade Frank Jiya the founding member of both the Socialist League of Malawi (LESOMA) in 1974 and Umodzi Ufulu Malawi Africa (UUMA) party whose military wing under the command of Malawi’s former Home Affairs Minister Comrade Yatuta Chisiza, fought against the Malawi’s security forces in October 1967 during the Mwanza ‘War’ in which Mr. Frank Jiya himself and four other UUMA combatants survived.
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