On Tuesday, April 15, 1958, African leaders, political activists from various African countries, and government representatives from independent African states attended the first Pan-African conference in Ghana. The conference sought to mark the annual progress of the liberation movement and to symbolize Africans’ determination to rid themselves of foreign domination and exploitation. On May 25, 1963, 31 African leaders convened a summit to establish the Organization of African Unity—what is now known as the African Union. On this occasion, “African Liberation Day” was renamed “Africa Day” and the celebration date was changed to May 25. Since then, this day has been celebrated around the continent and by several African communities around the world. It is commemorated in various forms around the globe, including, but not limited to: gatherings with panel discussions, rallies that feature cultural entertainment and attires, and special university lectures.
This annual event was proudly marked by African students at KDI School. The day began with a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of Africa as students showcased their traditional attires exclusive to their country, culture and ethnic roots. The African Development Forum (ADF) at KDI School organized a virtual forum, bringing together members of the African community and some alumni, including former ADF executives. The forum, which commenced at 6 pm and lasted for 1 hour 30 minutes via Zoom, aimed to gather participants’ thoughts on the contextual meaning of African Liberation as well as on the emergent political, economic, and social concerns of the continent. The discussions centered on how African nations can build, strengthen, and present a united front by negotiating as a composite body while simultaneously appreciating the multiculturalism and diversity of individual countries.
The discussions commenced with opening remarks from the President of the African Development Forum, Mr. Ayantola Alayande. He encouraged participants’ reflections on the historical essence of Africa Liberation, accentuating the core values of “togetherness, Pan-Africanism, and telling the African story.” He acknowledged that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented members from having the usual physical gatherings, the online seminar signaled the initiation of a series of other webinars the ADF plans to hold throughout the Summer semester. A resounding focus of the webinar was “Africa Liberation: What should be the question for our generation?”, underscoring key policy issues we can address as young policymakers in a state of diaspora.
Some key points of discussion during the forum were:
- The need for a united and common form of leadership for the continent, which would strengthen Africa’s influence in the international community.
- Promoting economic development and trade between African countries as the vintage point for resolving regional/inter-state conflicts and creating the political unity Africa desires. This came with a call to strengthen regional economic communities on the continent.
- The need to create and develop integrated infrastructural programs across the continent.
- The call to encourage social integration programs between countries.
- Removing existing barriers that impede free inter-country movement and trade between African countries.
- The need for governments to strive to achieve gender equality by eliminating social norms of patriarchy and increasing investment in girls’ education as development is non-existent in the absence of equal opportunities and inclusion.
- Individual African countries should strengthen foreign policy relations within Africa, rather than with other countries outside the continent.
- The heralded call for African governments to focus on empowering and entrusting responsibilities to individuals with relevant expertise or technical know-how.
In his final deliberation to end the session, the ADF President expressed his appreciation for the 39 participants (35 students and 4 alumni) and their highly engaging conversations and urged them to “match words with actions.”