Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) join the rest of the people ‘s of Africa in commemoration Africa Day on 25 May 2021.

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The significance of Africa Day and celebration on 25 May 1963 is because of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, (OAU) the predecessor of the African Union. The objective of the OAU remain vital in the post colonisation period, to build the Africa we want based on unity, socio economic integration, freedom from wars and imperialism. During the 21st Ordinary Assembly of the AU held on 26 May 2013, the foundation of OAU observed 50 years that culminated in Agenda 2063 proposed for achievement of substantive goals in the next 50 years. Agenda 2063 is described as a blueprint action plan of the Continent and was adopted in 2015. The blueprint action plan encompasses economic development, poverty eradication within one generation, political integration, improvement in democracy and justice, consolidation of peace and security, strengthening cultural diversity, through an African Renaissance, and Pan-African ideals, gender equality, and political independence from foreign powers. The AU declared the year 2021 as the year of Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want. A Statement of His Excellency Amb Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs , Peace and Security, African Union Commission presented at the NGO Forum preceding the 68th Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s highlight the importance of the role of arts, culture and heritage in advancing our common vision sets in Agenda 2063, particularly for the realization of Aspiration 3 which stand for an Africa of Good Governance, respect for Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law and Aspiration 4 which stands for a peaceful and secured Africa as promoted by the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security. He also encouraged AU Member States to incorporate objectives of this theme in national frameworks.

We would like to find out the impact of AU Agenda 2063 and how the year 2021 theme contributes to the lived realities of citizens of the continent especially, in using Arts, Culture Heritage to improve the livelihoods in poor communities. The outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic and strict preventative measures have exacerbated living conditions in disadvantaged communities with no infrastructure developed for clean water, sanitation, adequate housing to prevent overcrowding, and maintain social distancing. Many African communities are endowed with minerals and natural resources. However, preservation of the Continent natural wealth is for the benefit of multinational corporations, regardless of AU policies promoting protection of peoples against foreign exploitation. The history of the struggle for human rights in South Africa resulted with a constitutional democracy gained through bloodshed sacrifices. Although it is hailed as the best in the world, majority of people are yet to realise the fruit of democracy. We are proud of the legacy of our heroes, Tata Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, and herons like Charlotte Maxeke whom the country has dedicated the year 2021, were brave to fight injustice, discrimination, women and safe democratic civic space. We need to continue raising voices for promotion and protection of human rights. This is the dividend of our heritage we should all benefit in South Africans, especially from disadvantaged communities. The fight against repressive policies, prohibition of freedom of association, assemble and expression contributed immensely in entrenching fundamental values in the constitution. As we commemorate Africa Day, the 2021 theme provide the opportunity to reflect on the impact of our history, including arts, culture and heritage, and how this rich heritage can be used to transform situations of citizens living in rural communities, informal settlements and townships.

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