Lawyers for Human Rights Celebrates Africa Day: Embracing Unity

Date: 25/05/2020

Today, the 25th of May 2020, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) celebrates Africa Day. Africa Day is an annual commemoration of the foundation of the African Union.

Dating back to the 25th of May 1963, this day is celebrated by millions all around the continent and the world. This year, observances will inevitably take place in very different ways, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, it is critical to remind ourselves during this time of duress, of the essence of Africa Day: liberation and commitment to unity. More than ever, these values are needed for the Republic of South Africa and its people to come together, extend a helping hand, and to advocate for those whose voices have been silenced by the pandemic.

The theme of Africa Day 2020 is “Silencing the Guns by 2020: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the Fight against the Covid-19 Pandemic.” This echoes the timely struggles the country and the continent are facing, and the urgent call for coordinated responses to further these goals. Development is a collective effort, and the notion of Africa as a common destiny cannot be fully achieved when there is systemic exclusion of the most vulnerable groups. This includes the dire need to protect women and girls, sexual minorities and gender diverse persons, refugee and migrants, low-income workers (especially those in the informal economy), and homeless persons.

Our response to the coronavirus crisis will ultimately speak to the strength and integrity of our community. While in-person celebrations have been replaced by virtual commemorations, this Africa Day is perhaps an emblem of the solidarity and interconnectedness that was envisioned in 1963 among our leaders. Borders are but a socially constructed hallmark that reinforces division and fosters feelings of otherness. A global pandemic has accentuated feelings of otherness for many. But Africa Day can provide the glimmer of promise that by coming together through staying at home, maintaining physical social distance, abiding by public health regulations, and especially remembering those who are unable to celebrate this day in the comfort of their own homes, we can overcome and rebuild as a collective that will endure for future generations.

Lawyers for Human Rights invites you to commemorate Africa Day in ways that will strengthen not only the Republic of South Africa as it takes each step to combat the spread of Covid-19, but your voice as a citizen of the continent, a voice that can make a meaningful difference. Whether it be writing a letter to advocate on behalf of migrants and refugees, donating food parcels, or reaching out to your neighbour, these actions foster the inclusion and camaraderie that will reverberate the belief  in a universal bond of sharing that connects us all as the human race.

For queries:

Wayne Ncube, Head: Strategic Litigation Programme  |  071 850 3434