June is a significant month when it comes to African history and her plight for freedom from colonialism. Educators and professionals alike can benefit from knowing more about African history and facts about African culture. Here are 11 significant dates when nations in Africa achieved their independence from colonial powers. Mark them on your calendar, and be sure to share these African culture facts with your students, friends, family, and community members.
June 1: Madaraka Day in Kenya
Kenya was made a British colony in 1920, following decades of being a German protectorate. The first day of June commemorates the day Kenyans were finally able to enjoy independence and self-rule (“madaraka”) in 1963. In conjunction with Madaraka Day, Jamhuri Day on December 12 celebrates the day Kenya became a fully established republic in 1964.
June 5: Liberation Day in Seychelles
Liberation Day marks the start of freedom for people of Seychelles, an island nation east of the mainland continent. It celebrates a coup in which France Albert Rene became Prime Minister after ousting James Mancham, leader of the opposition party. A resolution was made that led to the country’s ultimate independence in 1976 (see more below).
[Note: Comoros Independence Day omitted because it’s celebrated on July 6th, not June 6th.]
June 9: National Heroes Day in Uganda
Started by the Uganda People’s Congress in 2001, National Heroes Day was originally created to remember the assassination of Eddidian Babumba Mukiibi Luttamaguzi, a supporter of resistance during the Bush War in the 1980s and ‘90s. It has since been reimagined to honour all those who have helped create a better nation in Uganda, including people of all political persuasions, educators, and doctors.
June 14: Freedom Day in Malawi
Although the country of Malawi was able to remove the mantle of British rule in 1964, the vacuum created with their autonomy paved the way for a totalitarian regime that lasted until 1994. Freedom Day celebrates the democratic national elections that took 30 years to replace one-party rule.
June 18: Evacuation Day in Egypt
Also known as Eid al Galaa, Evacuation Day in Egypt commemorates the withdrawal of British troops from the country in 1956, following the proclamation of the republic in 1953. The Anglo-Egyptian Agreement stated that Great Britain would gradually remove armed forces over 20 months to give Egypt its freedom.
June 19: Revolution Day in Algeria
It’s hard to believe, but Algeria lived under brutal French rule until 1962. Revolution Day celebrates the uprisings of the 1950s that led to President Charles de Gaulle of France eventually relinquishing control via peace negotiations.
June 25: Independence Day in Mozambique
Often referred to as Dia da Independência Nacional, Independence Day in Mozambique is a federal holiday where citizens rejoice in their freedom from Portugal, which invaded and conquered the country in the 15th century. Portuguese rule was doubly harmful in that it made Mozambique a major source of chattel slavery until the late 1800s. The Mozambique Liberation Front was formed in 1962, and finally, in 1975, the country became an independent nation.
June 26: Independence Day in Madagascar
Independence Day in the island nation of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean marks its struggle to move from under the rule of France in 1960. It took several decades of violence before the people of Madagascar were able to overthrow their French colonizers from the 19th century.
June 26: Independence Day in Somalia
Somalia and neighbouring Somaliland, an unrecognized sovereign state on the Horn of Africa, both celebrate June 26 as the day northern Somalia became free of British rule in 1960. The independence of Somalia was a key date on the timeline of the breakup of the British Empire under the young Queen Elizabeth II.
June 27: Independence Feast Day in Djibouti
Like many other African nations, Djibouti also declared its independence from France, finally becoming a sovereign nation in 1977. This holiday is particularly important to people in the Djiboutian diaspora communities around the world, who were scattered due to slavery and other forces from foreign countries.
June 29: Independence Day in Seychelles
Independence was granted to Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands, in 1976. It took several years of negotiating with the British, who took over rule from the French in the late 18th century, as well as resolving internal conflict to eventually become a completely free nation.
The cost of diversity and why we should share in African freedom celebrations
When studying African culture and values, it’s vital to understand that many totalitarian regimes were aided by outside governments. African culture is fascinating because it’s so diverse and the centre of all world history. Some of that diversity in language, cuisine, and traditions came from it's colonizer's influence like France, Portugal, Great Britain, Belgium, etc. And regardless how much of a price paid, African culture, beliefs and pride have endured.
As Fannie Lou Hamer, American civil rights activist, said, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” When we honour other countries’ battles for freedom, it helps us remember how all humanity really is connected. It prompts us to think about how we can support people who are still suffering in some kind of bondage, whether political, racial, or economic.
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