, 25 May, 2020 / 6:20 AM
On Africa Day this year, the Coalition for Africa’s Liberation and Restoration (CALAR), a collaborative initiative of numerous groups on the continent and in the diaspora, has called on Africans in all parts of the world to wake up and claim their rights and dignity and to “protect their heritage from organized criminal agents.”
Celebrated May 25 annually, Africa Day, which is also known by the terms African Liberation Day (ALD) and African Freedom Day (AFD), marks the foundation of the Organization of African Unity (AOU), now African Union (AU) on May 25, 1963.
In a declaration that was signed by Fr. Aniedi Okure, Executive Director of Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) to mark Africa Day this year, the coalition notes that the continent is bleeding from “resource exploitation” by foreign governments and from poor local governance, underscoring the need to pursue economic justice.
“The continent bleeds from resource exploitation, leaving its health systems fragile,” the members of CALAR say in their declaration that was shared with ACI Africa Saturday, May 23.
The coalition members add, “Weak governance continues to expose Africa to organized criminal practices by foreign governments and multinationals who skillfully avoid taxes, manipulate prices, and limit opportunities for manufacturing.”
CALAR members bemoan that Africa loses more through illicit outflows to foreign governments and elites, than it gets from aid and foreign direct investment, combined.
“We assert that Africa’s debt has been paid many times over. In fact, the world owes Africa and Africans reparations for the horrors of slavery, colonialism, apartheid, and ongoing resource exploitation. We believe a stronger, united Africa and a better world is inevitable,” they said in their statement to mark Africa Day this year, Monday, May 25.
The inaugural Conference of Independent African States was hosted by Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President, Kwame Nkrumah in Accra from April 15 to 22, 1958.
On May 25, 1963, thirty-one African Heads of state convened a summit meeting that established the precursor to the AU, the OAU in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Marked on the birthday of AU, the annual celebration of Africa Day recognizes AU’s success stories since its creation in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid and the progress on the continent. The event is also used to reflect upon challenges that the people of God and institutions on the continent face as they interact with other citizens and institutions of the world.
This year’s Africa Day will be webcast on YouTube and Facebook Live under the theme “Imperialist Sanctions on Zimbabwe, Cuba and Venezuela are Acts of War: Africans Everywhere Must Fight!”.
Organizers of the widely publicized event have noted that this year’s commemoration of Africa Day occurs at a painful moment.
“Too many African lives have been claimed by COVID-19. Nevertheless, while a global pandemic presents challenges, our fight for African liberation cannot be stopped! African Liberation Day 2020 moves forward!” the organizers have announced on africanliberationday.net
In their declaration dubbed “Africa, Remember Who You Are”, CALAR members express a commitment to uphold the “ideals of Africa” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On this Africa Liberation Day May 25, 2020, we, as people of faith and conscience, stand together during this COVID-19 crisis to lift up the ideals of Africa’s liberation,” says CALAR spokesperson Fr. Okure, adding, “Let us recognize and confidently assert the power and dynamism of Africa’s people. The origins of the human family lie in Africa, the ‘cradle of humanity’.”
The coalition members note that Africa’s great universities, like the University of Timbuktu in Mali dating back to the 12th century, stand as powerful examples of the brilliance, innovation, and genius of African people.
“Let us look inward and find our gold within. Currently home to over 1.3 billion people, Africa is leapfrogging, thanks to her innovation,” the official of AFJN, a community of advocates for responsible US relations with Africa, says in the declaration shared with ACI Africa.
He highlights some of the innovations made in Africa including the solar powered hand washing stations made in Ghana to address the spread of COVID-19, Madagascar's “promise of new treatment” and Senegal’s test kits that are now saving lives throughout the continent.
Africans have also been called upon on their liberation day to mobilize domestic resources to make universal healthcare a reality. According to CALAR members, economic justice must include quality public healthcare for all.
“In April 2001, African Union member states agreed to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to health. Nearly 2 decades later, most countries have fallen far from the mark. COVID-19 is an opportunity to hit the reset button,” the coalition members say and announce, “We reject the push by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to privatize essential services, including health.”
In their declaration, the members of CALAR also address the importance of protecting the planet and its people and democratizing all essential services.
“We demand full commitment to women and girls as leaders, entrepreneurs, and agents of change,” the coalition members note and add, “We will not be fully free until we decolonize our minds and maximize the creativity of our youth... Let us honor the sacrifices of our ancestors and demand leadership that puts the interests of the people first.”
“We must harness Africa’s blessings of sun and wind to power new jobs, grow our own food, and drive a more just economic development model,” they say in the collective declaration.
The activists have called upon the African Union, national leaders, faith-based institutions, social movements, civil societies, the diaspora “and all people of good will to free ourselves from the shackles of oppression; break from the tutelage of the West and China; and promote accountability at all levels of human interaction.”
“We stand as a bridge to the blessings of future generations. Let us remain strong, as spider webs united, believing, and living our Creator endowed rights to dignity and justice,” they say and add, “Let us unite to liberate ourselves! The Future is Ours!”
Speaking on the sidelines of the declaration, Fr. Okure has called upon Africans on the continent and in other parts of the world “to free Africa from the stranglehold that keeps Mama Africa’s children in poverty.”
“We invite faith-based groups, civil society organizations, individuals and active groups who are ready to join in this undertaking to collaborate to free Africa from the stranglehold that keeps Mama Africa’s children in poverty conditions so as to restore Africans to their endowed dignity,” say Fr. Okure who is a member of the Dominican Order.
In his view, “The situation is urgent, especially given the fault-lines revealed by COVID-19, and requires a sustained effort of all collaborators.”
On her part, Sr. Teresa Okure of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) who participated in the drafting of the declaration, has urged Africans to liberate themselves from world powers that seem keen “to take possession of Mama Africa,” specifying China.
“We are like town criers calling on all Africans at home and abroad to wake up and let us team up to liberate ourselves and our beloved continent from the shackles of colonialism, neo-colonialism, multifaceted exploitation and the insidious, subtle agenda of the Chinese to take possession of Mama Africa and populate it with the unwanted excess of its two billion population,” Sr. Teresa says in a message shared with ACI Africa on the occasion of Africa Day.
She adds in reference to those keen on exploiting Africa, “They will not succeed, by God's grace, unless we fail to cooperate with God. May God forbid that we should allow them.”
The professor of New Testament and gender hermeneutics at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria adds, “This Declaration is a town crying "Wake Up" call to all Africans. Once we are fully awake and aware together, we can take progressively swift and sustainable actions together to arrive at our goal.”