SA celebrates Africa Day

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pretoria - Today, South Africa joins the continent in celebrating Africa Day, a day to reflect on the proud achievements for the African continent and its infinite possibilities.

Africa Day is held on 25 May each year and is used to pay tribute to the continent's rich heritage, diverse languages, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds that make up its residents.

South Africa says it has high regard for this day as it marks an important sign of unity amongst the people of the continent and reaffirms the resolve to reconfigure the world along the values of human dignity, equality, and justice for all.

"In addition, the government and people of the Republic of South Africa acknowledge that the future of our continent is closely linked to our own future - as aligned in our foreign policy objective of establishing a better Africa in a better world," International Relations said in a statement to mark the day.

The department said it continues to support regional and continental processes to respond to and resolve conflicts, strengthen regional integration, companions for an increase in intra-African trade and sustainable development of the continent.

"At the same time, South Africa continues to advance common African positions through its structured bilateral activities and other international fora."

The department has also lined up week-long seminars at its head office, OR Tambo Building, to raise awareness and unpack the concepts of an African identity and culture, the economic emergence of Africa, as well as the empowerment of young African diplomats.

The seminars will see trainees, academics and members of the diplomatic corps engaging in constructive exchange of ideas, and will also be treated to samples of African art, music and poetry.

Africa Day is the annual commemoration on May 25 of the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

On this day, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community, and in 2002, the OAU established its own successor, the African Union. However, the name and date of Africa Day has been retained as a celebration of African unity.

The African Union, comprising 53 member states, has brought together the continent of Africa to collectively address the challenges it has faced, such as armed conflict, climate change, and poverty.

Africa Day is also used to reflect on the litany of problems troubling the continent which range from poverty, disease, conflict, wars and repression of people.

In Soweto, scores of people affected by the xenophobic violence that swept across Johannesburg in 2008 will meet at the Freedom Hall in Kliptown, to thrash out issues of African history, culture and 'Afriphobia'.

Attendees, which include over 400 high school students and representatives from community and non-profit organisations, will hold debates, panel discussions and poetry sessions under the theme "Bashonaphi Ubuntu We MaAfrika?" loosely translated as "What happened to humanity, Africans?"

Another notable event is the Sanaa Africa Festival, which runs from Friday until Sunday at Zoo Lake in Parkview.
On the bill is Baaba Maal from Senegal, Malian guitarist and vocalist Habib Koite; Olufemi from Nigeria; Namibia's Elemotho; local hip-hop artists Tumi and the Volume; Durban's Professor; Uju; the gospel group, The Soil; and newcomer Toya.

Festivities will be held to expose a cross section of the multicultural continent, ranging from visual art, fashion, poetry, craft, song, storytelling and film. The festival aims to pay tribute to Africa's creative industry.

"It's a veritable feast for the ears, eyes and soul," say organisers.

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