By Conrad Worrill, Chicago Crusader
This is the first of a two-part article on the origin and development of African Liberation Day (ALD). The celebration of African Liberation Day (ALD) in the United States began in May 1972 in Washington, D.C. More than 60,000 people participated in this historic event.
In 1973, ALD was decentralized and Chicago sponsored its first ALD celebration in May of that year. Since that time, we have celebrated ALD in various ways, with parades, rallies, and cultural programs.
From the 1980s through 1997, National Black United Front Chicago Chapter sponsored African Liberation Day/ALD on the West Side, where we marched down Madison Street and culminated with a rally and cultural program in Garfield Park. These ALD events were very successful and we were very honored to sponsor them. Other groups are now sponsoring African Liberation Day celebrations and activities throughout the United States.
African Liberation Day has become an institution throughout the African world. It is a day when all people of African ancestry should come together. Whether you were born in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Jamaica, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Belize, Bahia, Canada, Cuba, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Paris, or Chicago, as long as you are Black, you are an African, with a common heritage, and a common set of conditions.
As we prepare to participate in the upcoming weekend of events and activities, we must always remember the origin and development of African Liberation Day. Our ancestor, Kwame Ture, explained, “ALD was founded by Kwame Nkrumah on the occasion of the First Conference of Independent States held in Accra, Ghana and attended by eight independent states. The 15th of April was declared African Freedom Day to mark each year the onward process of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.”
Further, the AAPRP (All-African People’s Revolutionary Party) points out that, “On the 25th of May 1963, 31 African heads of state convened a summit meeting to found the Organization of African Unity. They proclaimed May 25th as ALD and called for mass demonstrations and manifestations in every corner of Africa and the African Diaspora.”
The idea of ALD has its origins in the long history of African people to break free of the yoke of European domination and white supremacy. This is a time in which we emphasize our oneness as a people with a common past, common set of problems, and a common future.
The capturing of millions of African people, who were placed in slavery and introduced into the western hemisphere as property and commodities, is the backdrop upon which we commemorate African Liberation Day.
It was the slave trade industry of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth-centuries involving Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and Germany that served as the foundation for these western powers and provided them the margin of profit in getting the greatest return off of their investment. The western world still seeks to keep Africa and African people worldwide in bondage, so they can continue to maximize the greatest return off of their initial investment.
After chattel slavery was abolished in England and the United States, the slave trade industry began to wind down. The former slave-trading nations found themselves no longer needing slaves, but yet stumbled upon the other natural resources of Africa. They began to fight each other over the gold, diamonds, and other mineral and plant resources they were discovering.
This resulted in the calling of the Berlin Conference in 1884, where the European powers united to divide the continent of Africa among themselves. It has been discussed, historically, that those who control Africa, control the world. Therefore, the Berlin Conference was a crowning blow in African history. The results of this conference led to the carving up of Africa so that France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and Germany controlled separate territories throughout the continent. This became known as the colonial period in African history. The colonial period in Africa, just as the enslavement of African people captured and brought to North America, had a devastating impact on Africa and African people. It was not until the early 1950s that the first African country gained political independence in the movement to reclaim Africa. That country was Ghana under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah who led the Ghanaian people in their fight against British colonialism.
I will continue the discussion of the origin and development of African Liberation Day in my next column. Many groups around the country and the world where African people reside will be hosting ALD Celebrations this year. Don’t forget to support African Liberation Day activities in your area of the world.