A brief history of Africa Day, 25 May

By Polycarp Kazaresam

Google may not have given it a Doodle, but Africa Day (formally known as African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is a popular pan-African celebration.

The commemeration takes place annually on 25 May, and can be traced back to 1958. Seventeen African countries gained independence from European colonisers between 1958 and 1963, and to mark their liberation, some of these states began celebrating African Liberation Day.

On 25 May 1963 a summit was held to found the Organisation of African Unity, now named the African Union (AU). The OAU changed the name of the holiday to African Freedom Day. 

Then and today, Africa Day's purpose is to mark the founding of the AU, while raising awareness about African issues on and off the continent.

While Africa Day is only a national holiday in a handful of African countries (e.g. Zambia, Ghana), it is widely commemorated. For Africa Day, Africans across the world will be celebrating their heritage by donning traditional outfits and putting on vibrant displays of culture and diversity. For instance, the Africa Diaspora Forum will be holding an Africa Day Carnival and Festival in Johannesburg on 27th May 2017.

2017's Africa Day highlights the theme: "Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth". 

Happy Africa Day! Let us know how you're celebrating @AfricaBizReview

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