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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Africa Freedom Day

Tomorrow, 25th May is what we in Zambia commemorate as Africa Freedom Day. Many other countries just call it Africa Day. This year, according to the Inter Press Service, Africa Day focuses on Youth and Development.

'Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent; it is rich in diversity, abundant in ethnicity and bursting with languages. Africa Day (25 May), which marks the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Unionprovides an annual opportunity to reflect on the challenges and achievements of the Governments and peoples of Africa.
This year Africa Day will be celebrated all over the continent and in the Diaspora under the theme: “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development’’. Africa Day is a day designated specifically to the celebration of African diversity and success.  It is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress that African countries have made, while reflecting on the challenges faced in a global environment'.
 The statue can be viewed at the Government Complex in Lusaka

To be honest, I have never really sat down to think about what Africa Freedom Day means to me. I, like many others, simply put it down to being another public holiday when I can kick back and relax. And yet, it grieves me that our society (and this includes the government), does very little to add meaning to what should be a sacred day. The survivors of the holocaust vowed to keep on telling their stories so that the world would "Never Forget". What are our African stories that we should choose to never forget? What does our Independence Day mean to us in 2011. Do we even remember what it was for and the price others paid to set us free? What about Heroes and Unity day? What is that all about, other than being Trade Fair weekend? Our flag independence may mean little with the hindsight of 50plus years, but if given a choice, who would choose to turn back the clock an remain in oppression, ruled by invaders from a distant land. 

As a Zambian, I should never forget the proud heritage of my country in setting this continent on the road to freedom. However, as a young person living in the 21st century, I want history to remember Zambia for what we did to take Africa and it's people forward. We should not forget the past, but neither should we always look back on it with doe-eyed fondness. We have so much more work to do to tackle poverty, disease, corruption,  dependency ...the list goes ever on. 

Nevertheless, one day, Zambia Shall Be Free!

Picture: Lusaka Times