25th May was Africa Freedom Day, so on behalf of Diaspora Connect happy Africa Freedom Day to all our diaspora readers! I was going to write a piece on the different Africa Freedom Day celebrations such as Zamfest, the biggest food festival with the widest selection of both local and international cuisine, music and art; or State House, which due to austerity measures only hosted 350 guests this year instead of 3500 guests that attended last year.
But as I sat down to think about the piece, I found myself instead asking – what does Africa Freedom Day mean really? We know the history (or we should), the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed on 25th May, 1963 and was later transformed into the African Union (AU) which became the symbol of Africa’s struggle and liberation from its colonial past. Our freedom did not come easy. Several decades later, we need to be reminded that it had to be fought for. Brave men, women and youth paid for it with their blood, life and sacrifice. That’s the history, but what is the present? And what is the future?
The struggle to attain self determination is long behind us. But for me, I think about Africa Freedom Day as FREEDOM. Africa still has a myriad of problems and challenges. No one doubts that the real struggle today is an economic and democratic one. Its easy to look at Zambia and become easily discouraged, especially if you look out onto the economic and political landscape. How do we become free today economically when there is a long list of obstacles just waiting to pull us back? We can choose to have freedom of thought. We can choose to see opportunities where others see only problems. We can choose to be proactive while others choose procrastination because things are ‘so bad right now’. We can also choose freedom of perspective. We can remember that a season has a beginning and an end but that it doesn’t last forever. Economies have seasons, there are ups and downs, peaks and troughs. Yet, there are those people who win whatever the season. We can choose to be one of them. This Africa Freedom Day, I hope you choose to be free.