Africa Freedom Day: UPC’s appeal, memories of major statements, 57 years later 

African Leaders in 1963. 2nd from [L behind] was Dr Apollo Milton Obote. Courtesy photo.

Kampala—25, May 2020: African Freedom Day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963. It is celebrated in various countries, on the African continent, and around the world.

The organisation was transformed into the African Union on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, but the holiday continues to be celebrated on 25 May—every year [Source].

In Uganda, the Uganda People’s Congress [UPC] party on Monday joined the rest of Africa in commemorating Africa Freedom Day also known as Africa Day.

“As a party in government when the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded, which later morphed to African Union. UPC therefore appeals to government to make this day a public holiday and urges Africa to recognize that our founding fathers held a vision for African Unity as pointed by Dr. Apollo Milton Obote,” UPC said in a press release on Monday.

“I hold the view that however nice one may feel as a complete master in one’s own house, the time has come, indeed almost overdue, for African Independent States to surrender some of their sovereignty in favour of an African Central Legislature and Executive body with specific powers over those subjects where divided control and action would be undesirable. I refer to such subjects as the establishment of African Common Market, Economic Planning on a continent-wide base, collective Defence, a Common Foreign Policy, a common Development, and a common Monetary Zone. The list is by no means exhaustive, and I hope that the conference will agree to the appointment of a committee of experts who will investigate the matter of close economic and political union among African Independent States within a period not exceeding six months,” UPC party remembers Dr Apollo Milton Obote [RIP] strong statement of 1963.

According to UPC, a speech to the Summit Conference of independent African States held in Addis Ababa, from 22nd to 25th May 1963 was a great word of wisdom by our Founding Father; Dr. A.M Obote, it re-vibrate into our ears and bring back the urgency of advancing the African Revolution on all fronts. “Our ancestors were traded across the Atlantic Ocean in what is known as Trans-Atlantic slave trade.’

In the diaspora under slave conditions our ancestors put up resistance that was in great solidarity and linked to our roots, which resistance now got a symbol of expression for those in diaspora and the continent; hence Pan Africanism.

This expression of Pan Africanism was very successful with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th conference of Manchester, 1945. Leading personalities like Kwame Nkrumah, Sir Sereste Kahrma, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Dr. Kamuzu Banda were some of the Delegates of Africa. They all agreed to launch the decolonization and independence struggles with full determination.

Ghana opened the way in 1957, followed by several other countries. The latest countries to complete the process of decolonization and independence struggles are Namibia (1990, South Africa (1994) & New South Sudan (2012).

Today, according to UPC, Africa is facing complex and endemic challenges. “We are struggling to escape to Europe and North America for day today survival, desperately to do any odd job on offer. Civil wars are still active in some countries like Nigeria, Libya, Central African Republic, DRC, these destabilize Africa and cause untold suffering.”

“Famine, hunger, disease is rampant and threaten our very existence. As a new pandemic of coronavirus erupts across the globe, Africa is the least prepared to handle the situation. We need to come together as a Continent and solve all these complex challenges. This is clearly stated by our founding father; Dr A.M Obote,’ Lawrence Okae, national chairman of the party added.

“…. the meaning I attach to this conference is that we have gathered here to find a basis as to how we can advance the two revolutions which are running together in Africa. There is the revolt against foreign rule and economic and social domination. There is also the revolutionary upsurge which aims at giving Africa a new creed, a new certainty, a new sense of belonging by transforming the mental attitudes and orientation of our peoples and by giving them a political, economic and social standard which would ensure a better life than we have today anywhere in Africa. To me, these goals can only be achieved through a continental and a joint effort by all of us. There seems to be no disagreement that we should collectively work together to achieve these goals….,’’ Mr Okae recalls Obote’s statement, quoting Thoughts of an African Leader.

“As we celebrate this Africa day, it’s important to reflect on COVID-19 Pandemic which has had devastating effects on countries, communities, and households across the world and Africa.”

Mr Okae further says has welcomed government measures and response towards COVID-19 pandemic such as suspension of schools/university, ban of public gatherings, worship places, public, private transport and closure of non-essential businesses, among others.

However, he noted this pandemic presents Africa with a huge challenge in re-building of public service delivery systems once more and health care in particular as regards to the common citizen.

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