Here’s What You Need to Know About Africa Day 2016

Wednesday commemorates the 53rd Africa Day, celebrated throughout the continent and its diaspora. It’s also a national holiday in six countries: Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

This year’s theme is “Building a Better Africa and a Better World” with special focus on human rights and an emphasis on women’s rights—in line with the African Union’s 2063 Agenda. These are timely topics considering the whereabouts of many of the Chibok schoolgirls, who were captured by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram two years ago, remain unknown. And Boko Haram, al-Shabab and al-Qaeda’s presence on the continent have provoked the displacement of 2.6 million people among Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad and countless killings of innocents.

However the day—which is marked by a slew of events including a star-studded Africa Day concert with artists Songhoy Blues, Waje, Nakhane Toure and Oliver Mtukudzi and others performing hosted in Johannesburg on May 28—offers an opportunity to reflect, advance cooperation among African nations and celebrate arts and culture as well as the forming of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) May 1963—predecessor of the African Union.

It was first observed by 17 countries that had gained their independence from European colonizers as African Liberation Day, and evolved into Africa Day when 32 nations, in show of solidarity, formed the OAU May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where it is still technically headquartered today.

Following its founding, 21 more countries joined, and in 2002, the OAU became the African Union that we know today.

And 92-year-old Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressed a crowd of 50,000 supporters who honored him on Africa Day in capital city Harare, where he ruled out the possibility that he’ll step down from his office, and condemned opponents in the ruling Zanu-PF party for their plots to oust him from leadership. Mugabe also made it explicitly clear to the crowd that he belongs to the people, saying,  “I am not a Yankee. I am not a Briton…I belong to Zimbabwe,” reports the BBC.

 

All Africa made a quiz so you can prove you know that Africa is not a country.

Africans and those of African descent also shared their sentiments and photos on social media:

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