AFRICANGLOBE – The African Union (AU), previously the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), marks its 50th anniversary this week with a series of events aimed at building a common identity and sense of belonging among all people on the continent.
On Monday, the Scramble for Africa Conference, involving academics from the continent and the diaspora, started in Tshwane, south Africa.
On Wednesday, a gala dinner pitched as a networking session with African embassies took place in Tshwane, and on Friday Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile will open the exhibition “Cultural Brokerage: Africa Imagined (Act1)” at the Pretoria Arts Museum.
The activities will culminate in the Africa Day celebrations planned for Saturday, when President Jacob Zuma will unveil an artwork at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as South Africa’s cultural contribution to the organisation’s 50th anniversary.
The Department of Arts and Culture, the City of Tshwane and the Africa Institute of South Africa are celebrating the anniversary under the theme “2013, Year of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”.
According to Mashatile, the anniversary will encourage South Africans to see themselves as part of an African movement for change, while acknowledging the role of the Organization of African Unity in bringing an end to White apartheid.
“As the government, we are particularly interested in pursuing a social cohesion programme that will help the people of the country and continent to redefine their social, political and cultural identity in a manner that will give them a sense of belonging and ownership to determine their own future and destiny,” Mashatile said.
African Union Promoting African Unity
It has been 50 years since the emergence of the Organization of African Unity and a decade since the formation of the AU.
Comprising 54 member states, the organisation brought the continent together to collectively address its challenges, including conflict, social upheaval, climate change and poverty.
It seeks to promote an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa that is people-centred and represents a dynamic force on the world stage.
Significantly, during the 2008-09 global economic crisis, Africa’s economies continued to expand, and growth forecasts for the continent remain positive.
However, the benefits are not reaching all Africans. Poverty, hunger and disparities in health, education and social participation are preventing the continent’s people from fully realising their full potential.
Africa Day will enable the continent to take stock of its assets, capabilities, opportunities and challenges and to look forward and define the pan-African values that will underpin the African agenda over the next five decades.