May 25, 2023
Africa Day, commemorated on May 25, celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of Africa’s societies and cultures, marks the progress achieved toward liberation of the continent’s peoples, lifts up a vision of pan-African unity and cooperation, and invites reflection on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
Sixty years ago today, representatives of 30 independent African states came together in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to create the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The OAU expressed the vision of an African continent that was free and united, a continent whose people enjoyed dignity, equality, and control of their own destinies. The organization’s Charter spelled out its purposes:
To promote the unity and solidarity of the African States;
To coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa;
To defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence;
To eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and
To promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
By 1994, when South Africa’s transition to democratic rule marked the culmination of the struggle for decolonization of the continent, the OAU’s membership had grown to 54 countries. African leaders recognised a need to refocus the OAU’s purpose from political liberation to inclusive social and economic development. As a result, the OAU relaunched itself in 2002 as the African Union (AU) to underscore this shift of emphasis to international cooperation to achieve prosperity, security and good governance through democratic institutions. The All Africa Conference of Churches engages in advocacy at the AU through its liaison office in Addis Ababa.
For the PC(USA), this should be a day for giving thanks for our African partners, appreciating what we learn by walking with them, and praying — and acting — for justice and peace in Africa. We are inspired and challenged by the diverse range of creative ministries that our ecclesial partners pursue in 20 countries across the continent to enable all to experience life in abundance. And we are grateful for the generosity and hospitality that our partners show in inviting PC(USA) mission co-workers to accompany aspects of their work.
Some of these extraordinary ministries include:
- The Presbyterian Coordination of Ministries with Vulnerable Children initiative of the Presbyterian Community of the Congo (CPC) that has moved from conventional, institutionalized care of children to comprehensive, congregation-based care in the community and includes training of child protection advocates.
- The commitment of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) to equip all of its churches and schools to be “green” institutions, building on the church’s successful Fruits, Vegetables and Environmental Education program.
- The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian’s “Educate our Girls” program, which ensures access to education for girls who became pregnant during Covid-related school lockdowns and who might otherwise have been compelled to drop out of school to care for their infant.
- The “1 Evangelist/1 Well” initiative of the Evangelical Church of the Republic of Niger (EERN) that seeks to ensure that communities have access to both clean water and “living water”.
As we celebrate Africa Day, let us give thanks for the ways that God is working in the world through our gifted and faithful partners in Africa!
Douglas J. Tilton, Regional Liaison for Southern Africa, Presbyterian World Mission
Today’s Focus: Africa Day
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Octavia Craig, Treasury Assistant, Purchasing, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)
Barry Creech, Deputy Executive Director for Budget, Board, General Assembly and Administration, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Creator and Ever-Creating God, your love and grace connect your people in ways that constantly amaze us. We are grateful that you call us to walk together on our journey, and we give thanks for siblings with whom we can share joys and burdens. Help us to be humble companions, acknowledging one another’s gifts, as we seek to ensure that all may experience the fullness of life promised in Christ.