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What You Need to Know About Africa Day 2017

Today, people across Africa and the diaspora are commemorating the 54th annual Africa Day.

Today marks the 54th annual Africa Day.


A national holiday in Ghana, Namibia, Zambia, Mali, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, the occasion is observed across the continent and the diaspora through celebrations, ceremonies, live performances, and, most importantly, reflection.

The origins of the holiday can be traced back to 1958 when 17 African nations established African Liberation Day, to commemorate their independence from European colonialism. Africa Day came about after 32 independent nations—led by Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Guinea's Sékou Touré  and Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda—formed the Organization of African Unity (OAU) May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Since then, 21 more nations have joined, and in 2001, the OAU became what is now known as the African Union (AU).

Every year, the AU establishes a theme for Africa Day, and this year that theme is “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youth." The organization's mission is to highlight the immense potential of Africa's young people and their role in supporting transformative growth on the continent.

Africa Day is an opportune moment to highlight the prodigious demographic and promote thoughtful action around the challenges facing African nations, one of the most timely being free travel and improved trade between African nations, reports Quartz.

Check below to see how folks across Africa and the diaspora are commemorating Africa Day on social media:

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Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

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