April 15th, African Freedom Day

sainey-fayeBy Sainey Faye

“It is time for new hands to lift the burdens.”
– Nelson Mandela

“My generation led Africa to political freedom.The current generation of
leaders and peoples of Africa must pick up the flickering torch of African
Freedom, refuel it with their enthusiasm and determination, and carry it
– Mwalimu Julius Nyerere
1st President Of Tanzania


Question: What Is African Freedom Day?
What year was it proclaimed?
How many African countries had political independence when it was
proclaimed ?
How many were present in the proclamation ?
What country was it held at and what was the name of the capital?
Who was the head of State or President?

April 15th, was declared “African Freedom Day” by the leaders of the then eight independent African states who met in Accra, Ghana, in 1958.Under the leadership of Dr.Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; the Pan-African movement managed to establish its natural base in mother Africa; where it rightly belong.This meeting was the first of its kind amongst African states, and it was not an easy meeting; because of many disagreements on certain key issues.But in the interest of unity and solidarity for the liberation fighters present, they took an positive united front, submerged their superficial differences and took a bold stance; in their support for political independence for all of Africa. Hold on, let’s roll back to 50 years. There were fewer despots and tyrants; the ones on the scene today were not even born; except for a handful. The Africans never would have thought that the carnage, genocide, and horrors would come at a time all eyes were on progress and advancement to a much better life for them and their children.Why the paradox …….. poverty in the midst of plenty ?

They committed their support with resources, and logistics to help those fighting settler colonialism and also apartheid in South Africa.The ANC,and Nelson Mandela would never forget such a kind gesture from his brothers/sisters from both North, South, West, and Central Africa. It is not surprising that these ex-colonies that had to fight and shed their blood during their war of liberation for independence and sovereignty, are more conscious of dates like these, but especially African Liberation Day; as it is now called and celebrated nation wide.

This watershed event was a catalyts to the liberation of Guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. South Africa took it globally in 2012, to host the largest and most successful ALD of its kind, involving all 54 states and 16 others in the diaspora; from the U.S.A., Brazil, the Carribbean, South and Central America, to Papua New Guinea, Vanatu, etc. This Pan-African global presence surprised even the enemies of Africa, that they can come together when their global survival is at stake; and begin to rally forces and strategize; rather than prevaricate and do nothing and wallow in self pity and hopelessness.Africa has resources, enough to sustain her and her scattered suffering children worldwide……..but try telling this to some of her reactionary sons and daughters !!!

In the era of colonialism, the colonies’ local currencies were at par or close to the colonizers; but there was also a catch by the hidden hand of imperialism.The catch was to begin with, political Independence meant that the colonial metropolis could not afford to return the deposits of the colonies invoved.All colonies had a third of all their assets held in financial institutions of their capitals or banking centers etc. as a safe keeping guarantor; thereby determining the time and rate of devaluation whenever they wished.Herein comes the devious manipulations of finance monopoly capitalism, with it’s new born child – the IMF; first to introduce devaluation in order to checkmate the newly independent nations’ growth, and then getting them hooked in a vicious cycle of moribund capitalism.The World Bank became overseer and arbiter/master.

For starters, in 1958 only 8 African countries had become independent. Two watershed events also occurred in 1957 and 1958 which were – the great attainment of independence by Ghana (1957); and Guinea (1958).With it came the convening of the 1st All-Africa People’s Conference signaling the birth, and emergence of a new phase in the African Revolution. Delegations, visitors, guests, freedom fighters, guerilla movement reps. and the vanguard of the 5th Pan-African Congress; the latter saw the seeds they sowed starting to germinate from their efforts in barely l2 years from the Manchester Pan-African conference of 1945.

The states that had attained their Independence and convened this great and memorable gathering were : Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia. The combined land area of these 8 countries alone was more than all of Europe combined; or the U.S.A.’s contiguous 48 states. In natural resources also; they were way ahead of the colonizers, yet their lot was not enviable due to the naked exploitation of colonialism and Imperialism.

But, they were determined to pull their meager resources together, and lend a helping hand to their brethren who were in bondage; and worst still; the evil settler colonialism and apartheid. They discussed and put in place some good strategies to support liberation struggles throughout the continent. This indeed was Pan-Africanism at its finest – content and substance at the core. Did it pay off, or rather did their investments and help yield any positive results?

It certainly did.Take a look the countries that gained political independence in 1960 : –
All of Francophone West Africa; and only Sierra Leone and Gambia were left in the region of Anglophone West Africa.Was it worth the effort to relinguish colonialism and eliminate the colonial bondage in all its forms? You bet it was.Did they know that they had to continue the fight for economic independence too? Of course many of them did; and likewise knew very well that this was a monumental task for them and the future generations, to come after them.

In 5 years’ span – 1963 to be exact; they renamed it “Africa Liberation Day”; and moved it to the founding day of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). On the day of seeing the results of the proclamation; 31 Heads of State, representing 31 countries signed on to this OAU memorandum; thus reaffirming the purpose of African Freedom Day. Since 1958, ALD has been organized and institutionalized throughout the world.
To the credit of Africans born in the Diaspora; their conscious political/historical understanding of ALD far transcends those from the homeland; especially the intellegentsia and so called pseudo scholars.African youths and some reactionary elders know and care more about events of soccer “Africa Cup” final dates than ALD.The substantive meaning of self-government or our sacrifices for the struggle for political and economic Independence has been hollowed out.

African Liberation Day gives us a chance to become more politically educated about the history and current reality of Africa. It also enhances our understanding of the many struggles, of many other oppressed peoples of the world. The old man says it best when he noted that “To overcome the conditions of modern slavery, both physical and mental, we must think and act for our own interests. A revolutionary African identity must become the foundation of our independent political consciousness and the struggle to liberate our homeland, Africa, must become the primary activity in our lives.”
It’s disappointing that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling, the blame game, mud slinging, and all other reactionary tactics; anchored on primitive nationalism.This is a dangerous strategy, that is not good for us and our continental struggle for unity and emancipation.Look at us one old man once observed, …..”anywhere you see us outside of Africa, we are scattered, dispersed, unorganized, and the servant of others.” Wasn’t this one of the reasons, why some of the freedom fighters for independence had in mind; when they struggled hard to have a liberated homeland, in order to live in dignity. On the other hand, isn’t it a shame that the Africa our people had envisioned had been taken over and ruled by despots, tyrants, and reactionary puppets. A casual look of it’s rulers shows that over two thirds weren’t even born by 1963 on the proclamation date, yet more than half have run out all or most of its productive forces, workers, youth, intelligentsia, and liberation fighters who help create the nation they now lord over.

Marcus Garvey reminded us once that “It falls to our lot to tear off the shackles that bind Mother Africa. Can you do it?” Indeed some have tried the best that they can, not without mistakes. Whilst we socialize and celebrate and party, let’s try to have some political and also education forums; like symposiums etc. to better help us understand the political / economic ramifications of this unending struggle.And also focus on the critical phase of the continental struggle in which Africa and Africans are struggling with right now.After 55 years, today there is hardly a country – call them micro-states, that can go at it alone, or best yet compete in this messed up, moribund, global capitalist unjust system.Look around your back yard and see how screwed up your country is, add 53 more to it; and figure out where we are as a people ….not good at all.

Let’s remember the architects of Africa Freedom Day …..their efforts and contributions, both minor and major helped us along the way to reach the heights that we are at now. The second liberation struggle of the 21st century has begun !!!!
As the architect Dr. Kwame Nkrumah said ” Africa Forward Ever, Backward Never ….We Have Nothing To Loose But Our Chains ”

On this day & date join others in celebrating and honoring the ongoing struggle to liberate the motherland. Remember no one but Africans can liberate Africa !!! The struggle Continues ……A Lutta Continua !!!


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