A weekend of celebrations to mark Africa Day got underway in cities around the country today, with free festivals, film screenings, concerts and children’s events designed to celebrate the diversity and potential of the African continent.
In Dublin, Africa Day will be marked by a free family festival at George’s Dock which will run throughout the weekend. At 5.30pm today, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello and Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague will launch the festival, along with Kenyan Ambassador to Ireland, Ms. Catherine Muigai Mwangi
Speaking ahead of the launch today, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said:
“Today is Africa Day and I am delighted to launch a weekend of events around the country to celebrate African identities and cultures and the richness of the relationships between Ireland and that great continent.
“I strongly believe that African countries, individually and working together in the African Union, can create a great future. Africa is a changing continent, with high economic growth rates and rapid development in terms of education and industry. Real challenges exist, but the African story right now is one of great energy and dynamism.
“African governments and communities are determined to overcome the challenges of poverty and hunger and move towards a new era of inclusive economic growth. My Department’s Africa Strategy is designed to support this momentum, promoting a mature relationship between Ireland and Africa which encompasses strengthened political and economic links that build upon our historical missionary and development ties.”
Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, said:
“Africa Day showcases the range of relationships that exist between Ireland and Africa and the importance of our strong and effective partnerships. I’m particularly delighted that so many of our African diaspora groups have become involved. Your participation sends out a strong message about how much you contribute to the fabric of Irish society
“Africa is a changing and complex continent. Some countries are experiencing high rates of economic growth, while others continue to face humanitarian emergencies and long-term poverty. Ireland is committed to working with you to realise the unrivalled opportunities for trade and inclusive growth which now present themselves, while continuing to support you in the fight against poverty and hunger.
“There is a strong dynamic and warmth to the Irish-African relationship that will only be enriched by the growing cultural, business, developmental and people-to- people links. Africa Day is an excellent example of this.”
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 over the coming days.
“I’m a regular visitor to Africa and have volunteered with the Irish charity CAMARA in Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. I’ve seen that life in Africa is changing for the better for many people and we have a lot to celebrate in this year’s Africa Day.
“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 George’s Dock, Dublin this weekend, stalls from over 20 different African countries will provide food samples and showcase traditional costumes, arts and crafts. A range of workshops on travel and the contribution of the African Diaspora will be on offer, while children of all ages will be entertained at the kids’ corner. Representatives from Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development, and NGOs will also host a range of fun, interactive activities designed to inform families about their work in Africa.
Cork city will mark Africa Day with an eclectic line-up of music, dance and arts from 1.30pm at Bishop Lucey Park tomorrow. A host of African cultures will be highlighted throughout the day, with ethnic food, entertainment and workshops on offer.
Galway city will tonight celebrate all things African with an intercultural evening of music, songs and cultural performances at the Commercial Boat Club in Woodquay. The Galway African Film Festival begins at Nuns Island Arts Centre today and runs through to Sunday.
Limerick’s weekend of African-themed festivities also begins today with activities including drumming sessions, children’s storytelling, a ‘Charity Voices of Africa’ concert. Other events over the weekend include Limerick Sportsfest, ‘May Music in the Park’ and a Family Fun Day in the Daghda Space on Sunday.
All events are being supported by Irish Aid, in partnership with City Councils and others in each of the locations.
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.
Source: Ireland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Press Release – 25 May 2012