Master of ceremonies, your Excellency’s, the Ambassadors of various African Countries, or their representatives, our guest speaker, special guests, colleagues, students and visitors,
Welcome to the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University for the celebration of Africa Day. It is indeed an honour and pleasure to receive you here today.
In modern times, Africa Day is celebrated on 25 May in accordance with a decision of the African Union. This decision of the African Union replaced a decision of the Organisation of African Unity, which determined the date for celebrations as 15 April.
But, ladies and gentlemen, of importance is not so much the date, but the fact that Africa Day presents an opportunity of all of us to reconnect and recommit ourselves in support of all interventions, whether from government, liberation movements or civil organisations, formal or informal, to develop a better Africa and a better world.
When we celebrate Africa day today, we declare openly and with conviction, and as a statement of pride, that we foster inclusivity and that we remain committed to continuous change and transformation for the better of our societies and our continent. The demands for change in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa, manifesting in so many ways and drawing attention to various issues and challenges faced by society, education institutions and governments, are firmly founded on the historical contexts and spirit of Africa Day.
It is about the process of decolonization of the African continent, the agitation for more political rights and independence, the liberation from foreign domination and exploitation, etc. It is also about coming together as the people of Africa, to encourage one another and to forge a common goal. It is about the reality that the national interest of the constituent parts of the African continent is intrinsically linked to the entire continent’s stability, unity and prosperity.
The continent benefitted greatly from the inspirational power of the individual and collective struggle against colonial rule.
The time has come, to draw from this powerful source of inspiration to confront the persisting effect and consequence of colonialism plaguing the continent and South Africa in particular. It is still deeply entrenched in the way things are done, postulating the contexts of what we should learn and how we should behave, dominating social and economic status, experience and aspiration, etc.
The spirit of Africa Day shall continue to inspire until all of us shall not only find our home in Africa, but most importantly, experience a total and overwhelming “feeling at home” in Africa.
Prof Chris de Beer
25 May 2017