Opinion – The hot wind of liberation

2010-05-22 15:15

This year 17 African countries celebrate 50 years of independence

from colonial rule. The pomp of the official state ceremonies and cultural

displays aside, the 12-month-long occasion merits time for reflection and

contemplation of the next 50 years.

2010 is a significant year when considering issues of freedom,

independence and liberation in Africa. It seems the space for declaring

independence and attesting to greater degrees of liberation is hotly contested

terrain in government circles.

On the eve of the 46th Africa Day, which will be honoured next

Tuesday, we are poignantly reminded of the instinctive response to celebrating

independence. While some countries observe Africa Day as a public holiday, for

many others it is just another day.

As Africa Day approaches there is much hot air blowing over Africa.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, officials will gather at a workshop

hosted by the African Union on Africa Day to discuss the topic: “Building and

maintaining peace and security through sports.”

The African Union has declared 2010 the Year of Peace and Security

– a noble intention and, given the impending sporting extravaganza we are about

to witness, a topical subject.

In the centre of the continent, in Cameroon, the doors will have

just closed on the Yaounde International Conference which ran from May 18 to May

19. The talkshop was part of build-up activities for the Golden Jubilee

activities planned to mark Cameroon’s 50th anniversary of independence.

The debate this time was themed: “Africa, an opportunity for the

world: realities and challenges.” Questions of what should be done at this

turning point in history, how to mobilise the process of integration and how to

manage the new world power order emerging in Africa were all examined during the

Yaounde conference. Once again, a noble intention.

South of the Limpopo, down in Yeoville, Johannesburg, the first

Africa Week festival was held over the past two weeks.

A pan-African soccer tournament featuring nonprofessional players

representing their respective countries culminates this weekend. On Tuesday,

Rockey Street, Yeoville’s suburb’s main artery, will be closed to host a

festival of food, fun, music and culture in celebration of diversity and

integration.

Tomorrow the Afrika Liberation Day symposium will be held at the

Yeoville Recreation Centre, where the topic will be: “How free are we?” Hot

winds of change or more hot air?”

I am all for dialogue and yes, thinkers gathering is always an

enriching experience. However, those thinkers are often not the ones on the

front line. I look forward to the day when an integrated approach to examining

issues brings more of the “afflicted” into the talk space.

Let’s bring on more hot winds to fan the flames as we take up our

civic duty. And after the party music has died down let’s go back and check in

on what those clever people were talking about. From there, perhaps we will get

a more tangible idea of what it is we are celebrating, pontificating on or just

plain not bothered about.


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