Insights into “Africa Day”

by isvolunteers on Monday, 1 June 2015

One of ISV’s longest serving Tour and Project Leaders in Southern Africa, Gareth Webb, provides insight into ‘Africa Day‘- a celebration of the continent’s history, heritage and culture held annually on the 25th of May. 


Africa is home to the tallest animal in the world, the giraffe (c) ISV

The 25th of May might just be another day for many people across the globe. But here in South Africa it’s a day that presents an opportunity for all of us to commemorate the establishment of the African Union (AU) and has become the springboard in which we acknowledge and celebrate Africa’s history, heritage and culture. We do this through what we call AFRICA DAY.

Africa (c) ISV

Africa: united in desiring “peace and unity for all” (c) ISV

Today is a day that could not have come sooner. Over the past few months, South Africa has been headlined in the global news for the xenophobic attacks – not something that spreads much positive light over this beautiful country of ours. Nor something that in a country filled with absolute beauty and splendor, we should be focusing on.


The ‘Marula Tree’ – indigenous to the miombo woodlands of Southern Africa. (c) ISV

So today we acknowledge the progress that we as Africans have made, while reflecting upon the common challenges we face in a global environment. It is a day in which instead of Africa standing apart, we stand united. United in a common goal, in a common ideology, and in a common outcome – peace and unity for all.

Each year Africa Day has a theme, and fittingly for the 52nd annual Africa Day celebrations the theme is, We Are Africa. So as a South African, and in the spirit of Africa Day I would like to share some interesting facts about my beautiful continent.


The world’s fastest land animal: the Cheetah (c) ISV

  • Africa is the world’s second largest continent, and is also the second most populous continent with about 1.1 billion people.
  • Africa is home to the longest river in the world (the Nile River), the largest desert in the world (The Sahara Desert), and the second largest freshwater lake in the world (Lake Victoria).
  • Africa is home to the world’s largest land mammal (the African Elephant), the world’s tallest animal (the Giraffe), the world’s fastest land animal (the Cheetah), the worlds largest reptile (the Nile Crocodile), the worlds largest frog (the Goliath Frog), and the worlds largest primate (the Gorilla).
  • There are over 2,000 recognized languages on the continent. The most popular being Arabic, English, Swahili and French.
  • All of Africa was colonized by foreign powers during the “scramble for Africa”, except for Ethiopia and Liberia. Africa is now home to 54 independent countries, which counts for more than a quarter of all countries in the world.
  • Africa is the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent with a continental GDP that accounts for just 2.4% of the global GDP.
  • The New York Times called Cape Town, South Africa the number one place to travel in 2014.
  • The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto, South Africa. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilikazi Street.
  • Finally, there are fewer people with Internet connections in Africa than there are in New York City.

Africa is my continent, Africa is my love, Africa is in my blood, and it is my honor to be able to call it home!

We’re proud to be Africans. We proud to be residents of this beautiful wonderful continent of Africa.” – South African President Jacob Zuma

Happy Africa Day!

– Gareth Webb

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Mama Tofu, a highly regarded member of the community in Chintsa and one of the oldest tour guides in South Africa. (c) ISV

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