About the event
Africa Day commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union) on this day, 25 May, in 1963. Formally known as African freedom day and then African Liberation day, its origin lies in the collective African resistance to colonialism and economic exploitation. The day was, and is, intended to highlight Africa’s continued collective struggle against adversity.
The African Union today strives to represent a vibrant continent of 1.2 Billion people. Today is a day to celebrate how far Africa has come against the odds and to recognise how much more needs to be done to ensure that all Africans can live healthy, happy lives.
How to approach it
This is a great opportunity to do two things. First, especially for younger children, introduce Africa as a dynamic, diverse continent. Often the dominant perception of Africa has been one of poverty and backwardness. Reverse these stereotypes by finding photos and videos that showcase modern Africa. Show that Africa has a rich history of civilisations, phenomenal natural resources and innovators. You could choose to show some examples of inventors, activists or artists that come from Africa.
Secondly, show students why African unity is important for Africans. Here is where you can begin to introduce the history of Africa, in particular, the history of slavery, colonialism and modern economic imperialism. Show that Africa was a diverse patchwork of peoples and communities that was (and is) subjected to external aggression from pillaging and occupation to the dominance of western corporations. African unity is a response to this external pressure, a collective desire to be free from it and to work towards a more equal international system together.
Africa is a continent of over a billion people living in 54 countries. That’s a lot of land and a lot of people! This day African people celebrate the African Union, an organisation where Africans work together for the common good of Africa. What challenges do you think Africa faces? How can we, as Euopeans, help Africans and the African Union?