African Liberation Day: Smash settler colonialism in occupied Palestine, Africa, the Americas and Oceania

The origin of African Liberation Day is rooted in 1958, when the first elected prime minister of Ghana, the great Pan-Africanist and socialist leader Kwame Nkrumah, convened the First Conference of Independent States held in Accra, Ghana. That conference was attended by eight independent African states.

Out of this gathering, April 15 was declared “Africa Freedom Day” to mark the annual progress of the national liberation movements to emancipate themselves from centuries-long foreign domination and superexploitation that began with the transatlantic slave trade. Two years later, 17 African countries won their independence, and 1960 was proclaimed the Year of Africa.

In his 1961 speech, “I Speak of Freedom,” Nkrumah stated: “For centuries, Europeans dominated the African continent. The white man arrogated to himself the right to rule and to be obeyed by the non-white; his mission, he claimed, was to ‘civilize’ Africa. Under this cloak, the Europeans robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people.

“It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.” (www.marxists.org)

On May 25, 1963, over 30 African leaders held a historic summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to create the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The OAU represented the independent struggles on the African continent against colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism and for a united Africa, both in the past and in the present. The OAU then declared May 25 “African Freedom Day” to be “African Liberation Day (ALD).” These demonstrations have historically been held on the last Saturday in May.

The first ALD was held in the U.S. on Saturday, May 27, 1972, in Washington, D.C., where tens of thousands of mainly people of African descent rallied on the National Mall to connect with the struggles throughout the African diaspora.

This May 25, on the 61st anniversary of the founding of the OAU, the major theme of ALD will be “Same Struggle: Smash Settler Colonialism in Occupied Palestine, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania!” Protests will take place in Africa,  Washington, D.C., and elsewhere worldwide.

This year’s ALD will take on a special meaning, not only because of the unprecedented global solidarity with the Palestinian resistance against the U.S.-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza and the West Bank, but also because of the ouster of French colonial troops in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso in 2023. The Nigerien government officially demanded that U.S. troops be expelled from their soil on March 16, 2024.

Despite the decades-long struggle against imperialism, including the debt crisis imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the African masses continue to fight back for their sovereignty and right to self-determination.

Today, at least 54 African countries will commemorate African Liberation Day to say that African people are one united people despite any artificial borders established by their colonial oppressors.

The writer attended the first African Liberation Day in Washington, D.C., in 1972 at the age of 20.

Monica Moorehead

Monica.Moorehead@workers.org

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Monica Moorehead

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