Today we commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963, which later evolved into the African Union on July 9th 2002 in Durban, South Africa. Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is an international celebration, particularly observed by many countries on the continent.
This years theme is, “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent. : Strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development. “
As an Igbo woman from West Africa I take pride in the age old tradition of agriculture, farming & trade, that undergirds the very fabric of my culture and more specifically my mother’s fathers lineage. Farming and the exchange and celebration of crops is at the pinnacle of our identity. Today I’d like to appreciate the diversity of our cultural foods and the importance of their nutritional value in the lives of our people. Starch staples such as Yam and cassava, to a bountiful list of fruits, nuts and vegetables. Igbo people have some of the most tastiest recipes for soups, using a variety of ingenious techniques to create fascinating edible combinations. My favourites are Oha, Onugbu, Ugba and Udara, the cravings become dangerous!
With an estimated population of 1.25 billion in 2018 and a growth rate of more than 2.6 percent as the fastest urbanizing continent, a sustainability goal of improving the lives and livelihoods of its citizens is a key focus. Good health, nourishment, human capital and improved incomes for countries, are at the forefront of this vision with the prioritisation of women, adolescents and children.
Though under-5 mortality rates have reduced by more than 50 percent between 1994 to 2019, compared to the rest of the world, malnutrition remains a detriment to the continents development with undernutrition identified as the main cause of child deaths.
According to the findings of the Continental Accountability Scorecard launched by the African Union and the Africa Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) in 2019, data shows that in the African continent;
8 million children under 5 years are stunted, and 58.7 million of those stunted are in Africa
Thirty-eight (38) countries have women’s anaemia prevalence rates of more than 30 percent
Eighteen (18) member states have at least 50 percent of infants exclusively breastfed
Twenty (20) member states have more than 70 percent prevalence rates for vitamin A supplementation.
AU’s objectives aim to nurture new research, science & technology initiatives, which create capacity for practical & tangible frameworks that increase food security, access to water & improved sanitation.Whilst continuing the act of educating publics through seminars, open lectures, & advocacy in support of human capital development through investment in nutrition.
The goal of the OAU was to exemplify the success of newly independent African nations post colonisation, and the determination for self governance exempt from foreign rule, exploitation and domination. The First Congress of Independent African States was the first of its kind delivered on African soil. Led by Prime Minister Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana on the 15th April 1958 in Accra, with representatives from several African countries; the conference called for a day to “…mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolise the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.”
By the early 60’s more than two-thirds of the continent had achieved independence from European imperialists, this continued with a swift push from the organisations pledge to support actions towards freedom from military rule.
Five years following the First Congress, on 25 May 1963, representatives of thirty African nations were hosted by Emperor Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the initial aim to encourage the decolonisation of four more countries in southern Africa. The next day a charter was set out and signed by all attendees and the Organisation of African Unity was founded and Africa Freedom Day was renamed Africa Liberation Day.
As the Organisation metamorphosed into the African Union after almost four decades, the celebration continued under a new name, Africa Day in tribute to the initial formation of the OAU.
An Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. Promoting Africa’s growth and economic development by championing citizen inclusion and increased cooperation and integration of African states.African Union