On May 25, 1963, 30 independent African States met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and formed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to champion the total liberation of Africa and chart the path of socio-economic development of Africa.
On July 9, 2002, the organisation was transformed into the African Union in Durban, South Africa, but May 25 continues to be observed as African Day and is celebrated by all 55 member states.
Activities to commemorate the day have centred around educating the population on Africa’s history, while shaping the narrative and the continent’s journey towards achieving its socio-economic and political development in line with AU Agenda 2063: The Africa we Want.
To mark this historic day, the African Union Commission is organising today a meeting of the third Specialised Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sports in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Ghana’s Minister for Youth and Sports, Mustapha Ussif, and the Executive Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the 2023 African Games, Dr Kwaku Ofosu-Asare, will present a progress report on Ghana’s preparation to host and organise the 13th African Games (Accra 2023). The meeting is being held on the theme, AU at 60: Unlocking and Scaling Innovation for AfCFTA Implementation through Youth, Culture and Sports.
In addition to the presentation on Ghana’s preparation for the 13th African Games, the meeting will discuss the five AU Sports Policy Framework for Sustainable Development of Sport in Africa. The five policy directions are: An Active Africa, A Winning Africa, An innovative Africa, A United Africa, and A Sustainable Africa.
This article seeks to discuss the merits of these sports policy directions in the light of AU Agenda 2063, The Africa we Want.
An Active Africa envisages a healthy, fit, happy and productive Africans by the year 2063 – a century after the establishment of OAU/AU. If this is the Africa we want, then efforts should be made to provide every community with playground, fitness instructors, basic sports equipment and promotion of mass participation in physical activities.
These goals cannot be achieved if there is uncontrolled conversion of playing grounds into residential properties or concrete forest.
Winning Africa expects to see African athletes mount the medal podiums at international competitions. There is no doubt that Africa abounds in sports talents, with a united African team capable of dominating and conquering the world in all disciplines of sports, both individual and team sports. These can easily be achieved if Africans come to the realisation that sports is big business which need investment and professional management just as any other business venture.
Kenya, for example, is doing well in long distance athletics because they have added value to their raw talents by establishing long distance athletic academies in Kenya. West African countries can conquer the world if academies are established in sporting disciplines that require speed of action and reaction, coordination, power and rhythm like sprints and jumps in athletics, boxing, basketball, football, among others. The Winning Africa dream can easily be achieved if a scientific approach is adopted in our elite sports talent development pathway in a sports academy where nutrition, training and healthy lifestyle of athletes are catered for.
African Games without an African indigenous sport is not the Africa we want in 2063. Just as West Africa has adopted Traditional Wrestling as an ECOWAS Sport, it will be appropriate for AU to develop and promote an African physical activity or game into an international sport.
To start with, the AU can encourage a host nation of an African Games to include an indigenous game as a demonstration sport. In fact, there should be a department of indigenous sports development at the African Union Sport Council which should be tasked to develop and promote indigenous physical activity into international sports. This is the Africa we want. The LOC in Ghana is considering introducing an indigenous game as a demonstration sport during the upcoming 13th African Games Accra 2023. The United Nations values the development of indigenous sports to the extent that it has opened a UN Office for Sport Development and Peace. It recognises indigenous physical activity as sport and encourages its development, promotion and participation.
Africa has diverse cultures. Our languages, foods, dances and way of life differ from one country to the other. It is only sports that acts as a universal language that is understood by all Africans and brings all Africans together as one family. Sports therefore has a major role to play in creating the African we want in 2063.