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Celebrating May Day

Today is International Worker’s day which is celebrated across many countries globally. The theme for this year is, “Social Dialogue, Economic Growth and National Cohesion”. The day has been kept aside to promote the requirements of eight-hour work day. It celebrates labourers and the working class. While we celebrate or wonder whether to celebrate, let us think of some of these workers who make our world a better place. Happy May Day.

Today is International Workers’ day, which is celebrated across many countries globally. The theme for this year is, “Social Dialogue, Economic Growth and National Cohesion”. The day has been kept aside to promote the requirements of eight-hour work day. In 2016, Kelvin Balogun, the President of Coca-Cola Eastern and Western Africa said that almost 50% of the 10 million graduates out of over 668 universities in Africa yearly do not get a job. Given this statistic, is this a day to celebrate or a sad reminder of the job situation on the continent?

Despite this, several African countries such as Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe among others recognise the 1st of May as Labour Day, workers’ day or as a public holiday.

Now, according to the UN World Population Prospects 2, 4 billion people are expected to be on the continent by 2050 and 1,3 billion of these are expected to come from Africa. World Bank analysts have said this growth is an enormous opportunity for economic growth which could go lead to a GDP increase of up to 15% on the continent.  While there’s a lot that needs to be improved on the continent, one cannot ignore the strides that have been taken so far. In 2010 Agriculture was Africa’s largest economic sector, representing 15 percent of the continent’s total GDP, or more than $100 billion annually, we still have many people employed in the sector as well as the extractive sector and the service sector.

While we celebrate or wonder whether to celebrate, let us think of some of these workers who make our world a better place.

The 28-member Mbini self-help group (SHG) in Machakos farms a 4-acre plot where they grow oranges, avocado, vegetables, maize. The group members also have their own plots, do bee keeping, baking of cakes, and rear goats, cattle and chickens. Their challenges are lacking capital to expand and pump water, lacking insurance and storage facilities for their produce. Photo: McKay Savage
On the front line against malaria: Army medical researchers in Kenya mark World Malaria Day 2010
Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs/ Flickr
Mining in Kailo. Photo: Flickr/ Julien Harneis
Trucks collect garbage. Photo: Congwingatchalian
A worker harvests grapes on the Bouwland Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Seventy four percent of the Bouwland farm is owned by a trust representing families who work in the area. Deracialising the wine industry has been slow with less than 1% of the provinces wine farms owned by blacks. ANP/AFP Photo Anna Zieminski

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