Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, today announced a nationwide programme of events to mark Africa Day 2012, which will be celebrated with a week-long schedule of activities from 20th to 27th May.
Events will include conferences, film screenings, concerts, schools programmes and other outreach initiatives at various locations throughout Ireland. Flagship family festival events will also take place in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. All events are being supported by Irish Aid, in partnership with City Councils and others in each of the locations.
At today’s launch, Minister Costello was joined by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague; the Kenyan Ambassador to Ireland, Her Excellency Ms. Catherine Muigai Mwangi; and Salome Mbugua, Director of AkiDwA, the African and migrant women’s network.
Launching the programme, Minster Costello said: “Africa Day presents a great opportunity for communities to join with people from Africa to celebrate their cultures and traditions. Ireland has developed strong connections with Africa, not least those forged by missionaries and non-governmental organisations. More recently, we have seen an increase in trade and business links, while many African communities here are making an invaluable contribution to Irish society.
“Ireland’s overseas development programme is strongly focused on sub-Saharan Africa. I am delighted that Irish Aid is in a position to support events such as this, promoting awareness of the overseas development programme and of the countries with which we work.”
In Dublin, Africa Day events will include a free family festival at George’s Dock on the weekend of 26th and 27th May, which will be launched by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister Costello and Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague. Stalls from over 20 different African countries will provide free food samples and showcase traditional costumes, arts and crafts. A ‘best dressed’ competition will have prizes for the most stylish man, woman and family, while visitors to the event will also have the opportunity to learn some Swahili and avail of free Henna hand-painting and temporary tattoos.
A range of workshops on trade, travel and the contribution of the African Diaspora will be on offer, as well as a book club discussion on the novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Visitors will also be encouraged to participate in drumming and DJing sessions, and to browse photography, art and craft exhibitions.
Children of all ages will be entertained at the kids’ corner, featuring face-painting; art activities; storytelling sessions with traditional African fables; and the African board game, Oware. Representatives from Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development, and various NGOs will also host a range of fun, interactive activities designed to inform families about their work in Africa.
Music highlights at the Africa Day Dublin event will include Congolese singer-songwriter Niwel Tsumbu; Discovery Gospel Choir; Q (Colm Quearney); the raucous energy of The Amazing Few; smokey jazz and soul from Katie and the Carnival; bluegrass group, Gypsy Rebel Rabble; funk and soul from Fox.E and the Good Hands; up-and-coming Cavan-based act, The Radioactive Grandma; The Cold 100; a special acoustic set from Witchseason; The Urges; and a range of choirs, traditional African dance troupes, and drumming performances. There will also be a dedicated rap / hip-hop / r’n’b stage, featuring sets from DJ iZem, DJ Wax, ShoBiz, TimDogg, DJ V-King, and a host of other African and Irish artists.
Other events in Dublin over the course of the week will include a seminar in Trinity College on Wednesday, 23rd May, entitled: ‘Scaling Up Agriculture: Sharing challenges and experiences of modernising agriculture in Ireland and Africa’, while the Royal Irish Academy will host a series of talks under the theme ‘Environment, Society and Space’ on Thursday, 24th May.
The Morton Stadium, Santry, will also hold ‘onehumanonerace’ – a day of athletics with special guest, former Olympic champion, Kipchoge Keino of Kenya. All amateur runners, global and local, are invited to take part. The event is organised by Sport Against Racism Ireland and the Dublin Multicultural Resource Centre.
Cork, Galway and Limerick
Cork city will mark Africa Day with an eclectic line-up of music, dance and arts from 1.30pm at Bishop Lucey Park on Saturday, 26th May. A vast mix of African cultures will be highlighted throughout the day, with ethnic food, entertainment and workshops on offer. Beginning with an African communities parade, starting at Winthrop Street, highlights of the day will include an African fashion show and children’s entertainment, while a free concert in Christchurch at 8pm will end festivities.
Galway city will celebrate all things African with an intercultural family evening of music, songs and cultural performances at the Commercial Boat Club, Woodquay. Refreshments and finger food from a variety of African countries will be available for tasting. The event will run from 4pm to 8pm on Friday, 25th May. Meanwhile, the Galway African Film Festival takes place at the Nuns Island Arts Centre, from 25th to 27th May. The full programme of films can be found at www.galwayafricanfilmfestival.org.
And Limerick city will also have a weekend of African-themed festivities from 25th to 27th May. Activities will begin on the morning of Friday, 25th May, with drumming sessions, children’s storytelling and an art workshop in Limerick City Library, followed by a ‘Charity Voices of Africa’ concert at 8pm in the Belltable Arts Centre. Other highlights will include Limerick Sportsfest at Crescent College at 12pm on Saturday; ‘May Music in the Park’ at the People’s Park from 2pm to 5pm, also on Saturday; and a Family Fun Day in the Daghda Space on Sunday, 27th May, from 2pm to 6pm.
Dublin Lord Mayor and Kenyan Ambassador
Speaking at today’s launch, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, said: “Few events celebrate multicultural Ireland better than Africa Day. As the Lord Mayor, I am honoured to be involved, and I am looking forward to experiencing the wonderful sights and sounds of Africa at events during Africa week.
“It is important not to forget the people who came here looking for a home when times were good, and have stuck around even when many have been hit hard by the national financial crisis. Their contribution to Irish culture and society, as well as their impact on the changing face of 21st Century Ireland, cannot be underestimated.
“In this respect, it is right that we celebrate the culture and heritage of Africa with a week of events taking place in Dublin and beyond. I commend Irish Aid for supporting this initiative, as well as the local authorities in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, who are hosting flagship family-day events.”
Kenyan Ambassador, Her Excellency Ms. Catherine Muigai Mwangi, also spoke at today’s launch. “On behalf of the African Embassies in Ireland, I am delighted to be at today’s launch for Africa Day 2012,” she said. “Outside of the African continent, Ireland is one of the countries that plays a lead role in marking Africa Day each year – it sets a best-practice example, in Europe and internationally, by organising a nationwide, week-long programme of events, which promote the involvement and contribution of the African Diaspora and encourage integration.
“Events like Africa Day are hugely important in strengthening relations between the African and Irish communities. Year after year, Africa Day has provided the public with an opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Africa. It has been a fantastic opportunity for African and Irish people to experience each other’s cultures, and I am certain the 2012 programme of events will be just as exciting and appealing as in previous years.”
Full details of all Africa Day events, including timetables for the flagship family festival events in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, are available at www.africaday.ie