On May 25, 2011, the world celebrated Africa Day. This year marked the 48th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. On July 9, 2002, OAU was succeeded by the African Union, whose aim is to promote economic, social, and political integration, and democracy on the continent. Even though the Organisation of African Unity no longer exists, May 25th continues to be commemorated as Africa Day.
This year’s Africa Day came at a time of momentous political change on the continent, as evidenced by the recent events in North Africa and Côte d’Ivoire. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon celebrated the Day in Ethiopia, where the African Union is headquartered. Emphasizing this year’s Africa Day theme, “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development,” Secretary-General Ban remarked that despite substantial progress in education and economic growth, inequalities are prevalent in Africa, and that the youth of Africa continues to face challenges when it comes to finding decent jobs and participating in the decision-making processes. The Secretary-General also emphasized that sustainable economic growth and the judicious management of the earth’s resources can only be achieved through the empowerment of young people.
In addition to S-G Ban Ki-moon, those present in the commemorative event at the African Union Headquarters included the Chairperson of the African Union, Mr. Teodoro Mbasogo, and the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. In celebration of Africa, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be offering a number of events, including film screenings, art exhibitions and debates, with special attention paid to the role of women and young people.