Robben Island marked Africa Day on Thursday May 23 by celebrating the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU), under the theme: Celebrating 25 years of democracy and freedom: Year of indigenous African languages.
The OAU was formed by 32 countries on May 25 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A further 21 countries have
since joined, with South Africa becoming the 53rd member on May 23 1994. Robben Island Museum hosted 50 delegates from different cultural backgrounds to conclude Africa Month with a workshop to discuss:
South African democracy and freedom 25 years later. How far have we come?
The role of indigenous languages in the quest for African unity.
The role of Robben Island Museum World Heritage Site as a catalyst for African unity.
Delegates were then separated into groups to discuss the progress that South Africa has made in 25 years of democracy and the role that Robben Island Museum continues to play in the democracy by reflecting on the diverse cultures, faiths, and ethnic groups that are brought together.
Keynote speaker, Nomfundo Mali, senior provincial manager at Pan South African Language Board, in her address, said: “Indigenous languages should
be tools to express interests, hopes, aspirations, affirmations
at all levels; politically, economically, socially and spiritually, without fear or favour, or without discrimination.” Senior Manager for
Public Heritage and Education (PHED) at Robben Island Museum, Ayanda Woji, closed off the event by urging the audience of various African groups who were all dressed in traditional attire for the event to “use their indigenous languages”.
“Using our native languages
is one of the most practical ways
of keeping the African narrative alive and ensuring our story is
told by our people and for our people.”