By Atuhaire Joan Patience
Over 50 years ago on 25th May 1963, Kwame Nkurumah, Haile Selassie, and other Pan Africanists spearheaded the formation of the African Union.32 states came together to create a liberation movement for the African continent. This movement was meant to be a symbolism of the determination of the black men and women to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.
Prehistorically, Africans suffered a great deal of oppression from their colonial masters. Our forefathers narrate a painful ordeal of the slave trade, separation from family, labor exploitation, lack of access to shelter. At the time, There was no consideration of the basic human rights of those who owned this continent of magical beauty, vast landscapes, warm people, and diverse cultures.
After being saved from such suffering, I firmly believe Africa day is a day worthy of celebration. A celebration that recalls the efforts made to liberate us from the dehumanizing treatment of the colonialists. One that showcases the splendor and unique heritage we have.
The forgotten history
Decades later, present-day African leaders are certainly not interested in understanding the values and principles left behind by Pan Africanists like Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, Haile Selassie, Kwame Nkurumah and Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Little effort has been put in to publicize this day, or in terms of policy – educate our children about where they come from. The boundaries of their countries or use their languages as the main medium of communication.
The African Union is merely a semblance of unity, unlike the Ubuntuism that once prevailed to improve the living conditions of black brothers and sisters. To develop one another and not fight or close borders at each other.
Today, we relate with a continent where so many little states are struggling to achieve middle-income status determined by the western world. Having closed orders by in-land countries like Uganda and Rwanda is not a surprise. Xenophobic attacks by fellow Africans against each other are daily bread.
Increasing class divide
But that’s not the worst! We successfully used capitalism to ensure that the rich become richer at the expense of the poor. We’ve failed to protect our very own children of the soil by sending fresh graduates to look for fortunes abroad only to return as corpses in coffins due to overexploitation in their own countries by their own countrymen and women.
We’ve chosen to educate ourselves on everything except our own history and heritage. We’ve chosen to be ignorant about who we are.
I’ll honestly say there so many loopholes but there’s equally a lot to be grateful for such as; Our unique heritage that saw the migration of different ethnicities to create various tribes and languages. Our past is a story of pain, unity, self-determination, love and battles won. There’s simply too much to be grateful for. And too much to preserve and guard jealously.
Rethink our perception
We need to preserve our own culture. We need to love the color of our skins. We must teach our daughters that our kinky hair is what makes them beautiful African ladies. Tell them they can groom it using Shea butter “moo yao” and water without needing to cook it under high volts of energy.
Let’s re-think what informs how we perceive ourselves as Africans, but most importantly can we re-live the Ubuntu that our fathers emphasized- Living by doing.
Africa is home. Africa is who we are! Africa is love and peace and Ubuntu. Africa is everyone, not some people. Africa is ours.
Let’s rewrite our story! May every day be a celebration of liberation from any form of oppression that threatens our humanity. Happy Africa day ❤️
The writer is a commentator on human rights and governance. You can read more of her posts here.