Africa Month

#Africa Month_2 






2021 UFS Virtual Africa Month Welcome Message, by Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Francis Petersen.


THE UNIVERSITY OF THE FREE STATE – LEAVING MORE THAN JUST FOOTPRINTS IN AFRICA to An African university that cares – UFS engagement on the continent

By Ilse Smalberger
Ghanaian politician and revolutionary, Kwame Nkrumah, famously said: “We face neither East, nor West; we face forward.”

At a time when Africa can be torn between the economic and trade pressures of the East and the political demands of the West, it makes sense that moving the continent forward is a huge priority. This is a belief that lies at the heart of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) 2018-2022 Internationalisation Strategy.  This strategy follows the 2020 Policy Framework on the Internationalisation of Higher Education in South Africa, by seeking to further not only South Africa’s interests, but also the interests of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Africa, among others.

Celebrating Africa Month

As part of celebrating Africa and advancing African unity, the UFS celebrates Africa Month in May, culminating in the Africa Day Memorial Lecture – this year held as a webinar on 19 May.  According to Dr Stephanie Cawood, Director of the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies that is hosting the Africa Day Memorial Lecture, Prof Walter D Mignolo, arguably one of the greatest scholars of decoloniality, will deliver the address. Read More...

2021 - A virtual celebration of Africa Month

 On 25 May 2021, Africa will celebrate the 58th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). A central tenet of the organisation, which was the predecessor of the African Union (AU), is African solidarity. Member states have undertaken to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the people of Africa. The University of the Free State (UFS) has a long tradition of commemorating Africa Day and the ideas underpinning it. Every year, diverse events aimed at advancing African unity and solidarity take place during Africa Month.

As we were preparing for the 2021 Africa Month, we received the shocking news of the damage to the University of Cape Town’s African Studies collection. The need for African solidarity to mitigate this immense loss has inspired the theme of the 2021 UFS Virtual Africa Month celebration, ‘One Africa together forever – solidarity in knowledge production and recording’.

Traditionally, the highlight of Africa Month is the Africa Day Memorial Lecture hosted by the university's Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS). On 19 May 2021 at 19:00 (SAST), Prof Walter D Mignolo, a guru of decoloniality, will virtually deliver this year’s lecture titled The beauty of the sovereign people: Jean Casimir and the Decolonial History of Haiti, to honour the memory of transatlantic slavery by reflecting on former ambassador, Prof Jean Casimir, who has shifted the geography of reasoning by breaking the code of the standard history of the slave trade, the African diaspora in the Caribbean, and of captive human beings in the plantations. The discussant is CGAS Extraordinary Professor and Professor of Epistemologies of the Global South at the University of Bayreuth, Prof Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni.  

Since the establishment of the OAU and with the later formation of the AU, member states have undertaken to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the people of Africa. As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, Africans have been fighting against the pandemic in various ways and have achieved considerable success in this regard. Given the economic and social challenges associated with the pandemic, fostering African solidarity and further developing the underpinning philosophy of ubuntu appear to be particularly worthwhile projects.

The diverse contributions to the 2021 Virtual Africa Month activities, which we will gradually add in the course of Africa Month, highlight the university’s commitment towards creating a diverse, challenging intellectual environment. As a research-led university, the UFS strives to provide an environment in which new ideas are incubated and debated, contributing towards its transformation process and African unity.


Watch: Africa Day Memorial Workshop


  Djembe Drumming Workshop and Lecture



  Africa Day Commemoration Book Launch



  Africa month an

VIEW:  Virtual UFS Africa Day Celebrations 2020

WATCH:  UFS Africa Day Celebrations 2019.  Streamed live on 24 May 2019.

History and intellectual underpinnings of the Africa Day celebration

On 25 May 1963, representatives of 32 African states gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) (now known as the African Union). During the formation of the OAU, only two thirds of African countries had been liberated from the yoke of colonialism. The coming together of these states to form the OAU was aimed at supporting the liberation of other African states that were still under colonial rule, as well as to foster political and economic unity and the integration of the continent. It was at this conference for the formation of the OAU, that a decision was made that the peoples of Africa will, on 25 May each year, commemorate Africa Freedom Day, later renamed Africa Liberation Day, and now known as Africa Day. 

The commemoration of Africa Day presents a unique opportunity for the affirmation and celebration of the history and ideals that spawned and sustained the movement towards economic integration, political unity, and liberation of the African continent. Today, the commemoration of Africa Day has metamorphosed, incorporating the celebrations of the rich cultural diversity and heritage of the African people. The understanding is that Africa Day celebrations should be inspired by more than just inquisitiveness about the past and about politics. Though history and politics are still the fount and matrix of the celebrations, the celebration should also help us affirm our culture and heritage as fellow progenies of the African soil.  

It is indeed true that much has been achieved on the political and economic front. In a similar vein, there is a lot that still needs to be done. However, in the discourse on the celebration of Africa Day, we should choose not to indulge in the clamour of bean counting. Instead, we should pause, take stock, and embrace what has been achieved – with the sole understanding that this can lead us to achieve even more. We should be inspired by our resilience as a people, drawing from the understanding that we cannot afford the luxury of throwing in the towel even in despondent and gloomy times. 

This is even more apt today, as Africa and the world at large find itself facing the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Africa has demonstrated solidarity, unity, and resilience in the face of the pandemic. Drawing on our solidarity, unity, and resilience as a people, we shall overcome.


Article was written by Kanego Mokgosi, Senior Officer Comprehensive Internationalisation, UFS Qwaqwa Campus

The 2021 UFS Virtual Africa Month celebration is coordinated by the Office for International Affairs in collaboration with the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice and, the Office of Arts, Culture and Dialogue.

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