What Is African Liberation Day?

sainey fayeBy Sainey Faye

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

“My generation led  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 forward.” – Mwalimu  Julius Nyerere, 1st President Of Tanzania


Question: What Is African Liberation  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  a  positive united front, submerged their superficial differences and took a bold  stance; in their support for political independence for all of Africa.

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, and a helping hand  from their 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  freedom may be more  conscious of dates like these; than those that had it without sweat and blood – for a better term.

Especially African Liberation Day; as it is now called and celebrated nationwide on the continent, the West Indies, the caribbean, U.S.A. Brazil, Europe, and Canada. Why is this important to Africa’s scattered, suffering children worldwide? It is not just a painful reminder that they they are not yet masters in their own house, but also their house is still not yet in order – politically, economically, militarily and culturally.They are the servants of others, everywhere you see them outside of Africa; and those in power for the most part are despotic or despots.

This watershed event was a catalyts to the liberation of Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, 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,natural and human  enough to sustain her and her scattered suffering children worldwide… but try telling this to some of her reactionary sons and daughters!!!

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 representatives 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 at 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 relinquish 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 “African Liberation Day”; and moved the date of the event to the founding day of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).  On the day of seeing the results of their 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 intelligentsia 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, 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 what 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 dignity. Today, more than ever – our youths are dying in the high seas trying to reach Europe; at any cost.

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 backyard 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. This is not the time for analysing and intellectualism, this is the time to join an organization, or help create one  working for the liberation of our people.

Let’s remember the architects of African 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 struggles being waged by the masses, and especially the events that have happened in North Africa and South and Central Africa; and lately in Burkina Faso are clear examples of popular revolutions by Africans determined to dislodge entrenched despots. The Gambia has been on the world radar too with civil defiance and direct confrontation with the Jammeh regime, which has been in power for 21 years now. The masses are losing fear of the regime, but   intelligentsia – especially the university students are nowhere to be seen; guiding and working with masses. A rare occurrence in the colonial and post-colonial struggles of African peoples – both in Africa and the African diaspora.The students are the catalyts for change in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World – working with grassroots movements, political parties, Fronts, and Movements. Our students and their so-called mentors lack even the abilities to organize symposiums on issues like nationalism,Pan-Africanism, the AU and present day Neo-Colonialism.

What better time than ALD, to rally forces by helping to bring the parties, and nurturing the seeds that the masses have courageously sown in defiance, and call for justice and regime change. The masses cannot do it alone without a political vanguard helping to politicize and educate them on the way forward to their liberation. These were reasons, that days like ALD were used to strategize, analyse, mobilize, and understand methods and objectives necessary to attain certain goals and tasks. These help reduce ‘stand up and sit down tactics’ and spontaneity which hinders unity in the common struggle for a people’s liberation.

Dr. King once noted with reference to political struggle that “When I hear others say that the people aren’t ready, it’s like telling someone not to get in the water unless you know how to swim. When the only way to swim is to get in the water……”

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!!!

This week-end ALD is being celebrated in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Brazil, London, Chicago, Lisbon, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Kingston Jamaica, Dakar, Senegal, Conakry, Mali, Italy, etc.


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