Did you know that 25th May is a global day set aside to celebrate Africa?
On 25th May 1963, thirty African nations, hosted by Emperor Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia made history with the foundation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) currently known as The Africa Union (AU). The main aim of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was to support the work being done by freedom fighters and to improve the living standards across member states. Currently, twelve African governments formally recognize this day, the day is rightfully gaining stature as evidenced by the urban and cultural events that seek to celebrate being African both in and out of Africa. This year’s theme set by the African Union is “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa we want“.
Here at Urban Change Lab, we will be taking time to mark this day to celebrate the strength in Africa’s diversity, its rich history and the varied talents that make the cornerstone of UCL. African creatives have excelled in design, the arts, fashion, music, or sports, they exemplify being Africa and being African as a lifestyle! Africa is so full of sounds, sights and lifechanging experiences making up a rich tapestry of the 54 countries.
Africa is home to a wide variety of people, the originator of all races, hundreds of culture, languages and resources that have pushed the global human collective from the agrarian revolution, to the industrial era and now the information age. Africa has been the destination for curious travelers and many people over the years redefining the opportunities, landscape and promise of Africa.
Africa is certainly not without its challenges, while the narrative of a poor, disease stricken or safari frontier fills the media spaces disproportionately, the Africa of now is showing the world the different experiences and possibilities. You can have the experience of a robust, loud and traffic-laden city to divine and breath-taking natural green spaces. Take Nairobi for instance where you can enjoy a cold tusker (beer) while Afrobeats elevate you to a world where your waist has no choice but to rotate in sync or not; and a few minutes later you find yourself to what is billed as “The World’s only Wildlife Capital” sighting some of the Big 5 with the capital city etched in the horizon; imagine the pleasure of finding your way in Karura forest enjoying top notch coffee with friends, family or strangers as you catch your breath after a nature walk.
The challenge for the next ten years, post-COVID 19 of course, especially for Africa’s children should be to discover the beauty that all the countries and regions have to offer. We need to promise ourselves to not only enjoy the physical beauty of the continent but to make human connections beyond the tribal affiliations, to be interested in breaking the man-made boundaries and borders that separate us. If we can enjoy each other’s music, from East to West, Tanzania’s Bongo to Nigeria’s Afrobeats, from North to South, Ethiopia’s vibes to South Africa’s Amapiano and of course Congolese vibrations in the middle; if we can enjoy each other’s foods, cultures and guarantee safe space for everyone to be heard and an opportunity to be the best versions of who we are supposed to be, then as Yemi Alade and Sauti Sol poetically profess “there is nowhere else that we would all rather be but in Africa.” HOME.
Happy Africa Day!