What Africa Day should have meant
By Ali Jaw
It is indeed an honour that a special day – the 25th of May – has been specially set aside and named ‘Africa Day’ or ‘Africa Liberation Day’ and that the entire continent and, perhaps, other parts of the world have made it a custom to recognise the day as a public holiday – a symbol of honour to our beloved continent.
However, while we commend this from the bottom of our hearts as true Africans, we will hasten to say, though, that this is not the only thing that the Africa Day should mean to the African continent.
Africa Day should have been a day when the entire continent will dedicate mediums of entertainment and information, centres of teaching and learning to teaching and reminding the children of Africa the truth about Africa and its earlier inhabitants, our ancestors, and what it truly means to be an African.
This day should have been a day of reminiscences, a day of reflection, a day of remembrance, a day to recall, a day to redefine, a day to reshape, a day to shed light, a day to clarify, and a day to ascertain, change and refine.
In some countries like The Gambia, it is now becoming a tradition to mark the day as a public holiday. Nevertheless, on this day of the year, many children and students would just be informed that there is no school on 25th of May 2022, but simply don’t know why.
They would know that it is a public holiday but don’t know the rationale behind it. It can, therefore, comfortably be asserted that the majority of the students, over 90% or even beyond, don’t know that this day is the Africa Day, or even if they do, have no clue what it is about.
Thus, in the case of The Gambia for instance, it would be right to say that today, Africa Day, marked with a public holiday, is nothing but another wastage of valuable time, which could have been invested into other things for development, as we are way behind the rest of the world.
Therefore, the Africa Day should have been a day to define what Africa and our forebears truly represent and what it means to be an African. It should have been a day we should have utilised to correct deliberate historical oversights and wrong historical notions on the pages of history.
It is high time that the children of Africa know that it was Africans that formed the first unified state with a group of administrators known as government and a system known in English as governance.
It is due that the children of Africa know that Africa is the cradle of meaningful and genuine civilisation, which man is boasting of today; that Africa was the origin of formal education; that Africa was a centre of learning; that Africa practiced democracy centuries before Europe even knew about rule of law or constitutionalism; that Africa was a great centre of medicine; that it was centuries ahead of the West and other parts of the world in science.
“The Egyptian empire was ours and visitors from all over the world marvelled at our creation. Timbuktu was once a great city in modern-day Mali. The two greatest universities in the world were run by Africans. Don’t be fooled,” incarcerated Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist, poet, writer, youth activist and entrepreneur, Adidja Azim Palmer, also known as Vybz Kartel, wrote in The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto.
This is a confirmation of the greatness of Africa, our beloved continent.
It is high time that sons and daughters of Africa know that Africa had always produced some of the most intelligent and brightest people of all time; that contrary to what history books are conveying, Africa has a richer history than any part of the world; that Africa once dominated the world in all areas; that Africa has produced some or the most selfless people in the history of man; that Africa has had the best speakers and orators to ever lay foot on this sphere and that Africa is the home of Mansa Musa, the richest person to ever live on earth from earliest times to date.
It is high time that the children of Africa know that Africa had not just been a centre of witchcraft and black magic, as books of history are asserting, but a centre of intelligence and intellectual might. It is time Africans know that they are gifted with unimaginable intellectual powers far more than any other race of people and that it only takes courage and belief to unlock such astonishing potentials.
These aren’t just assertions but evidence-based arguments, for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Thomas Sankara, Haile Sailassi and living legends such as Paul Jagami are some of the epitome of those great potentials.
These and many other facts are what urged to be known. This is what the children of Africa need to know, and there isn’t a better opportunity or time that such could have been taught to African children, youths and youngsters, the futures of Africa, better than the Africa Day.
This is what Africa Day should have signified, a day of reflection and teaching. It should have been a ‘day dedicated to sharing with the young people of Africa the deeply hidden and hardly-found knowledge and facts concerning their continent and their ancestors.
The Africa Day should have been a day to complement the effort for political redemption and mental liberation across the continent, for it’s only the knowledge of who we are that can guarantee a firm and strong believe, pride in what we are.
Marcus Garvey once said, “a people without knowledge of its past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
The fact is that as long as the mentality does not change and the mind liberated from the shackles of the West, nothing will ever change.
Let’s utilise Africa Day to trigger the change we want to see.