The 25th of May was set aside as a day to commemorate the freedom of most African countries from colonial rule. The first ever Africa day was held in 1963 in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, which was also the year of the formation of the Organization of the African Union. The original mission of Africa day was to unite African countries after colonial rule, defend the sovereignty of the Africans and to restore the dignity of the African people.
Nowadays, Africa day is a mere public holiday where people internationally hold festivities to celebrate their African identity. The real question is: Is it possible to stay true to our African identity in a world that is almost completely engulfed by European ideologies? Notably, as the years go by our African identity is slowly but surely eroding, giving birth to a whole new definition of African-ness, where there are new definitions of what is fashionable, new ways in how people should articulate themselves and treat one another in society. This new way of life has our ancestors turning in their graves, as the African traditionalists would put it.
In a bid to honor human rights and the modern acceptable norms, we stand a chance of losing our identity which is already at the brink of extinction. Gone are the days where a neighbor could discipline another`s child without being reported to the police, gone are the days where children respected their elders and got up in the bus to give an elder a sit, gone are the days when children played “amatope” together. The advent of the 21st century has brought with it an African in “black skin, white mask” as postulated by Frantz Fanon. This is a generation where young people walk past elders without greeting, where the youth exchange words with elders like age mates and our governments are doing nothing about it but are rather endorsing such behavior.
However, on the edge of Bulawayo, in the tiny community of Solusi, African identity is not totally lost. It is within the confines of Solusi where one learns to appreciate that “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” one does not live for himself. The cultural diversity in the Solusi campus is a perfect example that there are still people who are living according to the rules and norms of our African culture. Although some may scorn at the values enforced at Solusi, one gets to realize that these are values that the world has lost, and this makes Solusi unique. The realization that we are one under the African sun and need to work well together for the sake of progress revitalizes the sense of a true African identity, hence offering an answer to the question, “Is it possible to stay true to our African identity in a world that is almost completely engulfed by European ideology?” or hence we celebrate Africa day.
By Grace Sibanda
BA-English & Communication