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African Liberation Day

May 25 is African Liberation Day. On this day, many African countries celebrate the hard-fought achievement of their freedom from European colonial powers.

Is African Liberation Day a Public Holiday?

African Liberation Day is not a public holiday. It falls on Saturday, May 25, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Saturday opening hours.

African liberation Day
Many African communities play an active role in organizing events for African Liberation Day.
Many African communities play an active role in organizing events for African Liberation Day.
Illustration based on artwork from ©iStockphoto.com/andrea laurita

What Do People Do?

African Liberation Day is celebrated by many African communities around the world. It is a permanent mass institution in the worldwide Pan African Movement. The day is observed in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Events include:

  • Formal gatherings with panel discussions.
  • Street marches.
  • Speeches by political and social leaders.
  • Special university lectures.
  • Rallies featuring cultural entertainment, poetry, and speakers.

In the United States the day is commemorated in form of symposiums, where people are invited to attend and participate in political and social issues relevant to US African communities.

Public Life

Although widely observed on a global scale by various African communities, African Liberation Day is not a federal holiday in many countries including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. May 25 is a public holiday in Ghana.

Background

African Freedom Day was founded during the first Conference of Independent African States, which attracted African leaders and political activists from various African countries, in Ghana on April 15, 1958. Government representatives from eight independent African states attended the conference, which was the first Pan-African conference in the continent. The purpose of the day was to annually mark the liberation movement’s progress and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.

Between 1958 and 1963 the nation/class struggle grew bigger in Africa and around the world. During this period, 17 countries in Africa won their independence and 1960 was proclaimed the Year of Africa. On May 25, 1963, 31 African leaders convened a summit meeting to found the Organization of African Unity (OAU). They renamed Africa Freedom Day as “African Liberation Day" and changed its date to May 25. The founding date of the OAU is also referred to as “Africa Day”.

African Liberation Day has helped to raise political awareness in African communities across the world.  It has also been a source of information about the struggles for liberation and development.

Symbols

Many organizations use an outline of the map of Africa, or the shape of Africa, as a feature to symbolize the day. Pan-African colors, which are widely used for the day, come in different sets of three colors: the green, gold, and red colors used in the flag of Ghana; and the red, black, and green colors adopted by the American-based Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA).

African Liberation Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010TueMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2011WedMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2012FriMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2013SatMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2014SunMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2015MonMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2016WedMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2017ThuMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2018FriMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2019SatMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance
2020MonMay 25African Liberation DayWorldwide observance

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