If you had a chat today with a random African person and asked them if they have an idea what is commemorated on this day, probability of him not knowing is probably 0.9 if not 1. Ask them if they know about African Liberation Day and they will be even confused.

May 25th is the anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which is now the African Union (AU). The day was christened African Liberation Day (ALD). Today is the 57th anniversary of African Liberation Day. While it goes without saying that the day is very significant to Africa’s Political History, it is a paradox that majority of the population are unaware of the day itself, more so the young people. But should they be blamed for this ignorance/ lack of awareness?

Indeed, the 57 years of bad leadership can answer the question of why people are either not aware of the significance of the day or they are aware but see no value in it. For those aware, it is an annual reminder of the hopes and dreams of a prosperous continent that were shattered by the same people who led in the fight for the continent’s liberation and swore an oath to deliver the promises they made when taking over leadership. The success of Agenda 2063 which was launched in 2015 can only be realized when the leaders are committed to realizing the set goals. Otherwise it will just become another good document that lies in the archives of history.

The AU has realized the youth are the future and seeks to tap their potential for the socio-economic and political goals to be realized. While the AU has certain thematic areas of focus annually for the day, and they seek to engage the youth population of Africa, they should shift their focus at both continental and state level to be that of educating the youth about the day to create a wave of awareness.

For the AU Youth Division to be effective, they should seek to go beyond those who have post-secondary education to transform the perceptions of the youth about the AU. They ought to politically empower the continent’s young people for them to change their perceptions and realize their role and rekindle the dying embers of Pan-Africanism.

Can we (the youth) reclaim the spirit of Liberation? The lack of awareness or lip service paid to the day by many young people is perhaps an indictment of the bad leadership that has ravaged the continent.

Political apathy among the young people is of great concern. The youth who choose to engage in politics have sought to be accomplices of the bad leadership by being co-opted. Instead of championing the agenda of the millions of young people who have been victims of bad leadership, they focus on their own selfish agenda. It is a case of the Field and House Nigger.

But we cannot lose hope. A big portion (at least 60%) of the continent’s population is made up of the youth. The keys to the continent’s salvation lie with the young people. In the words of Frantz Fanon’s in his book ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill or betray it, in relative opacity.”

The previous generations of African leadership discovered their mission and chose to betray it. Will the youth of today discover their mission and fulfill it or will they opt to continue with the culture of betrayal?

Indeed, it is important to expand the question of African Liberation to not only focus on “Liberation for whom?” to include “Liberation from who?” and “Liberation from What?”

Pan-Africanism is dead. Long Live Pan-Africanism

The writer is a Political Science student at the University of Nairobi


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