Natural Hair Mag

Why the 25th of May wasn’t just about Memorial Day

World Africa Day


Most Americans think of 25th May as Memorial Day, a federal holiday in which one commemorates the fallen in the United States who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Others think of this day of another commemoration: World Africa Day. As an initiative of the African Union, this day is dedicated to celebrating the diversity and potential of the African continent. It also focuses on African communities living abroad and people are encouraged to pay attention to the “voice” of developing countries in European politics.

World Africa Day

It is the annual commemoration on May 25 of the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). On this day, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states, signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.[1] In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community, and in 2002 the OAU established its own successor, the African Union. However, the name and date of Africa Day has been retained as a celebration of African unity. And 2012’s theme of Africa Day was ‘Africa and the Diaspora’.

What is the African Diaspora? 

We consider the communities of descendants from the historic movement of peoples from Africa, predominantly through, let’s call it what it is, systematic, cruel enslavement to the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East[2], among other areas around the globe. The term has been historically applied in particular to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas by way of the Atlantic slave trade, with the largest population in Brazil (Afro-Brazilians), followed by the USA and many others.

This brings to mind that some of us, like me, have little to no knowledge of our exact African ancestral heritage. Due to the century long enslavement of Black people, the distance created by time and the diaspora, between our pre-colonial African heritage and our current state of affairs, we are nowadays completely cut off from our original African culture, ways and beliefs. To be honest… the first thing I answer when someone asks me where I’m from is that country in South America, that the Dutch so “skillfully” colonialized. I immediately claim cultural heritage to Surinam. Because that’s where we’ve been from for the past couple of centuries. However, considering how my ancestral line was broken and how we settled in the Americas, I should at least partly, claim heritage to Ghana, West Africa. But strangely, that’s not the first thing that comes to my mind…

Even though I consider myself a proud descendant of the African diaspora, one typical of the many communities throughout the world, I’m aware that my original culture, language and beliefsystem were stripped from my people and replaced by those of another. And whatever original culture is still rippling through to this day and age, is often perceived as “old fashioned” or sometimes even “primitive”, by my generation. We hardly hang on to it, let alone pass it on to our children… We’ve apparently been “trained” to assimilate to the prevalent culture.

Read more

Suggested Videos