Africa Day, observed by Africans across the continent and the diaspora, provided an opportunity for the AU to pay tribute to the visionary Founding Fathers and Mothers of the OAU/AU. These remarkable leaders made significant strides in achieving sovereignty for African nations and laid the groundwork for the establishment of the AU. The decision to transition from the OAU to the AU was adopted by African Heads of State and Government in the Sirte Declaration of 1999, which aimed to accelerate the process of continental integration.
The commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the OAU-AU serves as a milestone that showcases the continent’s unwavering commitment to solidarity, peace, security, and economic integration. It is worth noting that the OAU was founded on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the objectives of promoting unity, solidarity, and contributing to the economic, social, and political development of Africa. Over the past 60 years, the OAU-AU has played a vital role in fostering collective action, promoting shared values, and facilitating collaboration among African nations.
The celebrations at the AU headquarters were graced by the presence of esteemed guests, including Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Azali Assoumani, the President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union; Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AUC; Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former Chairperson of the AU Commission, AU Commissioners, Members of the Permanent Representative Committee, AUC staff and their families, Representatives from AU Organs and RECs, as well as the media and other invited guests.
In his welcoming remarks, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, highlighted the significance of May 25 in African history. He emphasized the importance of honoring the visionary leaders of the OAU-AU who laid the foundation for the African renaissance and socio-economic and political development. Chairperson Faki also called for solidarity with African brothers and sisters who have been displaced or forced into exile due to conflicts on the continent. He reminded everyone of the ambitious goal of "Silencing the guns by 2020," as articulated in the Agenda 2063 adopted during the 50th anniversary of the OAU in 2013. Chairperson Faki underscored Africa’s resilience and urged unity, stating that Africa has the capacity to overcome any adversity it faces.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, reflected on the historic event that took place 60 years ago in Addis Ababa. He acknowledged the progress made by the African Union in promoting and defending an African common position on issues of continental interest. However, he also recognized that much work remains to be done to fulfill the aspirations of the founding charter and Agenda 2063.
President Azali Assoumani, the Chairperson of the African Union and the President of the Union of Comoros, expressed pride in the achievements of the past six decades of the organization. He highlighted the OAU’s success in ending colonialism in Africa and apartheid in South Africa between 1963 and 2002.
President Azali emphasized the need to pursue together the ambitions for unity, peace and development to succeed in creating the conditions for the free movement of goods and people in the continental space, through the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). “Let us ratify the Agreement, for those who are still hesitating, in order to make this ambition a reality, and give our continent a chance, to experience sustainable economic growth and to nourish the hope of becoming one of the largest markets in the world, in the years to come”, urged the President.
Other events which took place during the celebrations included Honouring the OAU founders Fathers, Planting trees to mark the 60th Anniversary, Exhibitions , various games and activities for children and Cultural evening.