ALD was founded in 1958 when Kwame Nkrumah convened the First Conference of Independent States held in Accra, Ghana and attended by eight independent African states. The 15th of April was declared “Africa Freedom Day,” to mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.
H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I Wrote on May 25, 1965
“The first conference of the independent African states was held in Accra, Ghana, on April 15, 1958. It was decided then to celebrate this historic day as African Freedom Day. Until recently, April 15 was celebrated throughout our continent as African Freedom Day. However, two years ago today n May the Summit Conference of the Independent African States, which was convened in Our Capital City of Addis Ababa, decreed that May 25, the day on which the historic Charter of the Organization of African Unity was signed, be celebrated every year as African Liberation Day. Accordingly today is celebrated as African Liberation Day.
The African Unity Charter was signed two years ago today. Within this brief period much has been accomplished that augurs well for African Unity. In accordance with the resolution of the first Assembly of African Heads of State and Government held in Cairo last year, the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity has been established here in Addis Ababa. Under its Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Diallo Telli, of Guinea, the Organization is successfully discharging its responsibilities and commitments.
The Ethiopian people, who have struggled and made untold sacrifices for their independence and freedom for thousands of years an independence that has been a beacon for all of Africa today celebrate this day together with all Africans by consolidating their freedom and independence with the freedom and independence of their African brothers in the spirit of Modern Ethiopianism.”
Between 1958 and 1963 the nation/class struggle intensified in Africa and the world. Seventeen countries in Africa won their independence and 1960 was proclaimed the Year of Africa. Further advances were made with the defeat of U.S. imperialism in Asia and the Caribbean. Imperialism responded to this tide of victories by assassinating revolutionary leaders and sending U.S. troops to Viet Nam. On the 25th of May 1963, thirty-one African Heads of state convened a summit meeting to found the Organization of African Unity (OAU). They renamed African Freedom Day “African Liberation Day” and changed its date to May 25th.
Since then, the world has witnessed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, the US invasion of Cuba, the US move to crush liberation movements in Asia, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan; the overthrow of the Democratic Party of Guinea, the US invasion of Grenada, the US bombing of Libya, and the overthrow of Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso. This period had marked a temporary setback for the Pan-African movement and since 1966, was characterized by a lull in ALD activities. Neo-colonialism was imposed upon the people as the new stage of the capitalist, imperialist strategy in Africa.
Out of the intensification of the nation/class struggle, a new generation of African youth emerged and reaffirmed their African personality, history and their Pan-African objectives. This youth was the product of Malcolm X, Sister M’balia Camara, Patrice Lumumba, Frantz Fanon and the countless generations before them. Links were made and maintained with Kwame Nkrumah. Understanding the need for clear and precise ideological and organizational direction for the Pan-African movement, Nkrumah published Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization (1963), Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (1968), and Class Struggle in Africa (1970). The ideas of Nkrumah infused the Black Power Movement (1960-1972).
Nkrumah taught us, “The total liberation and unification of Africa under an All-African Socialist Government must be the primary objective of all Black revolutionaries throughout the world. It is an objective which, when achieved, will bring about the fulfillment of the aspirations of Africans and people of African descent everywhere. It will at the same time advance the triumph of the international socialist revolution.”
In 1970 the Pan-African Secretariat of Guyana made the call for the celebration of ALD in the western hemisphere. In response, a large demonstration was held in Georgetown, Guyana and smaller celebrations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The Pan-African movement was once again on the verge of taking a mass revolutionary character and educating and organizing the people. By 1971 Pan-Africanism had become the dominant discussion in every factory, home, school and church in the African world. In the 1990s, as a result of the people’s struggle, we have witnessed the defeat of apartheid, the heroic decision of the OAU to break UN sanctions against Libya, and the Congo victory by pro-African forces over imperialist proxy forces, making an advance toward Nkrumah’s call for an African High Command and representing a healthy day in line with the African Union. The African Union, and Africa’s first continental holiday, “Africa Day,” are clear signs that the struggle for African Unity will not stop until victory is achieved.
Today African Liberation Day is a permanent mass institution in the world-wide Pan-African movement. As an institution, it is stronger today because the masses of African people are stronger and ALD is their day. As a day of work in the area of political education and organization, it reflects the fact that we have not obtained our freedom, and thus it is a day to reaffirm our commitment to Pan-Africanism, the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism. At ALD we also deepen our understanding of other just struggles and affirm our role in the world socialist revolution. ALD has but one direction, forward to a unified socialist Africa. It is growing as the level of awareness about Pan-Africanism and the primacy of Africa grows. It is growing as progressive and revolutionary organizations grow. And lastly, it is growing as the masses make increasing victories against capitalism, neo-colonialism, racism, and zionism.