Thursday, June 26, 2014

This Week's Africa Holidays - Mozambique, Madagascar & Djibouti

This week three African countries celebrate their independence days -- Mozambique yesterday (June 25), Madagascar today (June 26) and Djibouti tomorrow (June 27).

Located in southeastern Africa (where it borders several countries:  Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with Madagascar across the Mozambique Channel to its southeast.)

Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975, only to descend into civil war two years later, a conflict that was not ended until 1992. With the advent of a multiparty system, the country became a democracy and has been politically stable for the past two decades. The country's population (as of 2011) is about 24 million.

In his holiday message to the people of Mozambique, U.S. Secretary of State noted his personal ties to the country. (His wife, Teresa, was born and raised in the country.) Said Kerry:
Mozambique is a longstanding partner of the United States. Together, our countries are working to ensure peace, progress, and shared prosperity for all. We are especially proud of our joint efforts to strengthen democracy, promote economic growth, and combat the scourge of wildlife trafficking and other transnational crimes.
The Republic of Madagascar (formerly known as the Malagasy Republic) is located on the fourth-largest island in the world, off the east coast of the African continent in the Indian Ocean. It gained independence from France in 1960 and its 2012 population was about 22 million.

The Malagasy people first arrived from Borneo sometime between 350 BCE and 500 CE. Anthropologists believe this makes Madagascar one of the last land masses to be settled by humans.

Secretary of State Kerry said in a congratulatory independence day message to the people of Madagascar:
This year’s anniversary carries special significance as the first since Madagascar’s return to democratic rule.

We encourage the newly elected government to show its commitment to the Malagasy people by governing with transparency and respect for human rights and the rule of law. In times of crisis, we worked with you to advance the health and well-being of all your citizens. Now, in times of hope and opportunity, we look forward to deepening our partnership for peace and shared prosperity.
The smallest country by land area in Africa, Djibouti occupies a total area of just 8,958 square miles (23,200 square kilometers). It borders Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia and is the home of the only U.S. military base in sub-Saharan Africa, Camp Lemonnier.

First known during the colonial era as French Somaliland, it became the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas in 1967, ten years before Djibouti became independent of France in 1977. Its current population is about 811,000.

To celebrate independence day, shopkeepers decorate their premises with the national colors (blue, green, and white) and the red star of the Djiboutian flag. The people also mark the day with parades, fireworks, concerts, and dances.

This year, at least one foreign dignitary is visiting Djibouti to commemorate the holiday:
Somalia’s Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari has started a three-day official visit to Djibouti where he will meet members of the government and Members of the Parliament.

Speaker Jawari accompanied by MPs from Somalia Federal Parliament has received a cordial welcome at Djibouti’s International Airport on Tuesday afternoon where he spoke to the local media.