Founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), 1963. Source: thisisafrica
On April 15, 1958, in the city of Accra Ghana, African leaders and political activists gathered at the first Conference of Independent African States. It was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, The United Arab Republic (which was the federation of Egypt and Syria) and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of Cameroonian Peoples. This conference was significant in that it represented the first Pan-African Conference held on African soil. It was also significant in that it represented the collective expression of African People’s disgust with the system of colonialism and imperialism, which brought so much suffering to African People. Further, it represented the collective will to see the system of colonialism permanently done away with.
After 500 years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the rape of Africa and the subsequent slave trade, which cost Africa in excess of 100,000,000 of her children, the masses of African People singularly, separately, individually, in small disconnected groupings for centuries had said, “enough”! But in 1958, at the Accra Conference, it was being said in ways that emphasized joint, coordinated and unified action.
This conference gave sharp clarity and definition to Pan-Africanism, the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism. The conference as well laid the foundation and the strategy for the further intensification and coordination of the next stage of the African Revolution, for the liberation of the rest of Africa, and eventual and complete unification.
The Conference called for the founding of African Freedom Day, a day to, “mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.”
Five years later after the First Conference of Independent African States in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia another historical meeting occurred. On May 25, 1963, leaders of thirty-two independent African States met to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence from colonial rule. At this historic meeting the date of Africa Freedom Day was changed from April 15th to May 25th and Africa Freedom Day was declared African Liberation Day (ALD). African Liberation Day has been held on May 25th in every corner of the world since.
African Liberation Day as an institution within the Pan-African movement reflects the growth and development of Pan-Africanism. When Pan-Africanism was faced with fighting colonialism, the focus of African Liberation Day was on the anti-colonial struggle and the fight for national independence. As Pan-Africanism grew stronger and developed into a more mature objective, African Liberation Day activities reflected this maturation.
African Liberation Day has contributed to the struggle to raise the level of political awareness and organization in African communities worldwide. It has further been used as a tool to provide a platform for many African and other oppressed peoples to inform the African masses about their respective struggles for true liberation and development. Particularly for Southern Africa, African Liberation Day played a critical role in the defeat of colonialism and apartheid. It inspired others to support through various progressive organizations, liberation committees and movements both in Africa and the socialist countries around the world, the building of anti-colonial and national liberation movements by generating arms for the freedom fighters, offering a platform where the world could receive political education on the nature of the struggle, and providing a mass assembly where the spirit and moral of the freedom fighters could be reinvigorated.
African Liberation Day has helped to expose U.S. led imperialism, Zionism and colonialism as enemies of Africa. Imperialists for decades have attempted to distance African Liberation Day (and the African Revolution in general) from the struggle for socialism. Remember that it was, and is, capitalist Europe, and not the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, China or Vietnam which occupied, colonized and exploited Africa. Several states in Africa today stand independent because of military and other assistance from socialist countries.
From the first ALD held in Accra, Ghana where Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah planted the first seed to the hundreds of African Liberation Day observances which have occurred all over the world. African Liberation Day stands committed to the struggle for national independence, African redemption, African liberation, African unification and scientific socialism. Today African Liberation Day activities are being organized throughout Africa and all over the world where African people are living and struggling. The journey down the Revolutionary path can only be accomplished by joining a revolutionary organization working for the people. The freedom of Africa and African people demands revolutionary action through revolutionary organization.