Africa Day 2020 – Silencing the guns

Photo by Ryan on Unsplash

25 May 2020 is Africa Day and the question is how far the continent has come in its quest of ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020’.

Here are 10 quick facts worth knowing on Africa Day 2020:

  • Africa Day has been commemorated since 25 May 1963, marking the day on which the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded. The OAU became the African Union in 2002.
  • The 2020 Africa Day theme is “Silencing The Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the Fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
  • The theme is in keeping with the African Union (AU) theme for 2020, which is “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.
  • Long-serving Algerian diplomat Ramtane Lamamra is the African Union Commission Special Envoy on Silencing the Guns.
  • The theme stems from commitments made in the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, adopted by the 21st ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 26 May 2013. African leaders stated: “We pledge not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and undertake to end all wars in Africa by 2020.”
  • In October 2015, Namibia hosted the Sixth African Union (AU) Annual High-Level Retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa in Windhoek, on the theme: “Silencing the Guns – Terrorism, Mediation and Armed Groups”, after which the Windhoek Declaration was issued.
  • Despite the commitment to ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020’ there are a number of armed conflicts raging on the continent as it marks Africa Day 2020, from an unending civil war in Libya to jihadist insurrections across West Africa and the Sahel, and Islamic State (IS) inspired insurgencies in Somalia and Mozambique, to name but some.
  • Africa Day is marked as an official public holiday in just nine out of 54 African countries, namely Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Namibia, Zambia, Mali, Mauritania, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

In his Africa Day 2020 commemorative statement, AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, said of the state of Africa:

“Ranging from open crises, caused by terrorism and inter-tribal or inter-religious conflicts to post-electoral crises, Africa is constantly beset, here and there, by scenes of violence, fragility and uncertainty over the future. As Chairperson of the African Union Commission, one of whose key commitments is to silence the guns on the Continent, I am deeply touched by the sight of the current events in Libya, one of the founding members of the OAU, and the principal initiator and proponent of the African Union. The tragedy being played out in this country is of profound concern to us all. No-one is blameless in the failure, neither is any segment of the international community, which has a great responsibility in the persistence or even escalation of the conflict.”

– Moussa Faki Mahamat
The guns have not been silenced by 2020, but that does not mean they won’t be silenced eventually. Africa Day is a reminder of a continent’s promise and potential.