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What is it that we celebrate on Africa Day?

As another Africa Day has come and gone, ask yourself this question: What exactly were we celebrating?

On 25 May, Africans all over the world celebrated Africa Day. Much reference was made to the “founding fathers” of many African countries. The spirit of Pan-Africanism was invoked and unity among Africans encouraged. But how does one talk of a free Africa when Africans still accept being tied to their colonial masters in so many ways?

The Commonwealth of Nations, headed by Queen Elizabeth II, the very representative of the British Empire, has 15 African countries as members. Yet the citizens of all 15 of these countries would have to write an English proficiency test if they were to study in the United Kingdom. Why would African countries be part of an organisation that is headed by someone who symbolises the subjugation of their land and the blood shed by their people? Can we claim to be truly free when we belong to such organisations? When Francophone African countries store their money in France?

Read: Inspiring Action on Africa Day

More than a third of the 68 million forcibly displaced people in the world are in Africa.Cartoon: Damien Glez/This is Africa

One would assume that the thinking of leaders from a continent that has been ransacked would be to never sit at the same table as their oppressors. That, however, is not the case in the majority of African countries – and not just the Anglophone countries but the Francophone ones too. The price of freedom is firmly in the pockets of so many of our (immensely selfish) leaders.

Read: Africa Day: The Africa we want

In 2019, the African is still not free. The African is not even free in Africa and faces stiff access control to enter another African country as a result of the borders that were imposed on us and are a relic of colonial inheritance to this day. What exactly is the meaning of Africa Day when flights from Africa to Europe cost way less than flights between African countries that share borders?

Linguistically, even though Kiswahili is gaining ground, French and English still function as the official languages of many African countries, yielding to the very colonial mould that we were forced into. So what, then, is Africa Day really all about?

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