Happy Africa Day

Africa by satelliteOn May 25 1963, the Organization for African Unity was formed to promote the unity and solidarity of the African states and to act as a collective voice for the continent. In 2002 it became the African Union. This historical date, May 25, has become Africa Day across Africa and in the Diaspora. We’d like you to take a moment out of your day, this evening, whatever you’re doing, to celebrate Africa.

Celebrate the substantial advances made in children’s health and education in sixty years of independence. In 1960, only 7% of children in sub-Saharan Africa were enrolled in primary school; in 2010, three out of four children are enrolled – a tenfold increase.

Celebrate African resilience in the face of adversity and challenge, and their steadfast commitment to help children in need. Twelve million African children have lost one or both parents, and yet family and community safety nets are so strong that 95% of these orphaned children are still living within extended family.  If a similar scourge were to afflict America, would we be prepared to respond so robustly?

Celebrate the progress made in the struggles for self-determination, justice, and equality, even as we recognize that much remains to be done.

Celebrate the warmth, diversity and vibrancy of African cultures, and how they have enriched our world.

At Firelight we know of no better voice to lead us in this celebration of progress, resilience, struggle, and warmth than that of “Mama Africa”, South Africa’s Miriam Makeba, who was a symbol of progress and hope

Miriam Makeba was a South African artist born in a township of Johannesburg in 1932. She was one of the most visible and audible anti-apartheid spokespeople and was later deprived of her citizenship. She performed and traveled in exile for many years. Thirty years later, when democracy was finally won, she returned home until her death in 2008. Makeba was outspoken till the very end and her songs continue to mark an unmatchable honesty and inspiration.

We cannot say it better than Mama Africa herself, so we defer to her and the legacy she’s left for us all.

Please give Mama Africa’s “A Luta Continua” (“The Struggle Continues”) a listen, and sing along in celebration.