Africa Freedom Day is an important day set aside by our founding fathers to mark the day when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) -now known as the African Union – was founded on 25th May, 1963, in Adds Ababa, Ethiopia, to launch among many other objectives, the struggle against colonialism and apartheid on the African Continent.
It is a day for honouring the brave men and women on our continent who lost their lives, were maimed for life or made supreme sacrifices for our continent to be free from the humiliating yoke of colonialism, apartheid and oppression. The founding fathers of our continent such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Modibo Keita of Mali, Gamal Nasser of Egypt, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and our own Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, wanted to see a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Africa, which would be tolerant of divergent views.
Sadly, our continent has been through difficult and disappointing phases of failed states, military coups, one man dictatorships, wars and conflicts, downright economic mismanagement, corruption, abrogation of press and individual freedoms which have made it impossible for the African people to get out of their cycle of poverty. We have seen newly elected leaders amass unexplained wealth together with their subordinates in the shortest possible times of being in power and build houses, flats and complexes which their normal incomes cannot reasonably justify. We have also seen an erosion of democracy and human rights, the arrest and imprisonment of their opponents on tramped up charges. These are disturbing and retrogressive developments which have also induced a culture of silence and fear among ordinary citizens for fear of imprisonment. Africa’s GDP growth has slowed down and unemployment particularly among young people has become a time bomb waiting to explode with all the attendant consequences.
What has gone wrong with the vision of our founding fathers? We obviously have a leadership crisis which requires to be scrutinised more seriously, if we are to arrest the present downward trend of these selfish leaders who are not afraid to tamper with oil procurements, fertiliser procurements and other public procurement contracts to enrich themselves and their minions at the expense of their people, who are struggling everyday just to put food on their dinner tables. Yes, we should celebrate Africa Freedom Day, which was a commitment by our founding fathers to eradicate colonialism and apartheid, which has been achieved and also to honour those gallant sons and daughters of Africa who sacrificed so much for our political freedom. Sadly, we should also remember that the struggle against bad governance, human rights abuses, dictatorship, poverty, corruption, shrinking space for press as well as civil society space and intolerance remains on going. The people of Africa must stand up and defend their democratic rights and speak out against injustice, so that we can lay down a much firmer foundation for generations yet unborn. Africa is an important continent and we all have a duty to give it a better image, which all of us can feel justly proud.