Thousands celebrate Africa Day at Farmleigh – Irish Times

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An estimated 30,000 people went to Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park yesterday to mark Africa Day, a celebration of the culture, diversity and links with Ireland of the continent’s 54 countries.

President Michael D Higgins was joined by Minister of State for the Diaspora Joe McHugh on a walkabout around some of the dozens of stands, stalls and entertainment areas in front of Farmleigh House, former home of the brewing Guinness family.

Now in its ninth year and fourth at Farmleigh, the annual Africa Day festival is organised by Irish Aid, the development aid section of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The event also marks the anniversary of the African Union, this year its 53rd.

‘Strong relationship’

Mr McHugh said the day was about “building on a very strong relationship between Ireland and Africa” and how that relationship moves forward.

Music, dancing from belly to zumba, craft and food stalls, competed with storytelling, drumming classes and a competition for the best dressed individual, couple and family. And a best stand award which went to the Image of Africa stall, displaying the fashions of Cameroonian designer Alice Abec.

A pop-up drumming session got under way with members of the Africa Irish Sports Association when the President and the Minister arrived at their stand.

Founder of the organisation Nigerian Richard Oyewole said the volunteer group supports all Irish sports and “brings all the ethnics living in Ireland together” as well as bringing their drums, colour and singing to Irish soccer events.

‘Positive side’

Salome Mbugua, an Africa Day champion said people often speak of Africa as the “dark continent, a continent in trouble”. But Africa Day “acknowledges the contribution, the positive side of Africa and the progress made since the foundation of the African Union”. Ms Mbugua is also director of Akidwa the Migrant Women’s Network in Ireland which helps migrant women and children who have been affected by conflict. Ugandan Association. vice-chairwoman
Justine Nantale says Africa Day is a means of integration for Africans in Ireland and for Irish people with Africa.

“Some people think we are all the same but you can see here the difference in food, music, dress and culture”.

Thousands celebrate Africa Day at Farmleigh – Irish Times