ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - Dozens of nations celebrated Africa Day across the continent Wednesday, with many using the occasion to call for freedom, human rights, good governance and prosperity.
A founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, Ethiopia -- the only African country never to be colonized -- observed the 53rd anniversary of the formation of the pan-African organization for the first time nationally.
The OAU later became the African Union in Durban, South Africa in 2002.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ethiopian Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Taye Atskeselassie told a gathering in capital Addis Ababa that the country “feels proud of having contributed to the independence struggle across the African continent”.
“Africa Day symbolizes the gallant struggles by Africans for many centuries for freedom,” he added and paid homage to the diaspora Africans who instilled the idea of pan-Africanism such as Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Du Bois.
In Uganda, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, reflecting on the significance and aspirations of the founders of the Organization of the African Union, emphasized the need to focus on what he called “Africa’s economic liberation”.
Speaking in capital Kampala, Kutesa said that the “paradox” of African poverty needed to be resolved to ensure the continent’s socio-economic transformation.
“We have to challenge the existing paradox of a hugely resourced and gifted continent, but inhabited by mainly poor people,” he said.
Although the African Union is focused on promoting the unity and solidarity of African peoples; eradicating all forms of colonialism and ensuring self-determination, Kutesa said it was time to “renew commitment towards Africa’s renaissance and the advancement of all people of African origin”.
The Ugandan minister also stressed that in African countries where young people represent a large portion of the population, some of the urgent interventions required included: “Creation of enough high productive jobs for the working-age group, supporting entrepreneurship and investment in micro, small and medium enterprises.”
Meanwhile, Zambia’s government released and pardoned over 554 prisoners across the county for this year’s Africa Day.
President Edgar Lungu announced the releases during an Africa Day celebration held at the State House on Wednesday.
Lungu said he “hoped the released prisoners have learnt viable lessons from correctional centers” where they have been kept all these years.
*Anadolu Agency correspondents Addis Getachew and Abebech Tamene in Ethiopia, Halima Athumani in Uganda, Francis Maingaila in Zambia, Hatice Kesgin and Felix Tih in Ankara contributed this report.