Africa Day advisory group not told of decision to cancel flagship event, says Akidwa

Change of plan mean ‘less time to prepare, resulting in smaller events or no celebrations at all’

A traditional Bawo Game during the festivities at Farmleigh House to mark a previous Africa Day at Farmleign House. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A traditional Bawo Game during the festivities at Farmleigh House to mark a previous Africa Day at Farmleign House. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The national network of migrant women has criticised the Government for cancelling the flagship Africa Day event at Farmleigh Estate.

The network said members of the advisory group for the annual celebrations were not informed of the change of plans.

The Department of Foreign Affairs announced in April that rather than hold a large event at Farmleigh in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on May 25th, local authorities would take over responsibility for marking the day as part of a “different approach” for 2019.

Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon said on Wednesday that local authorities had responded positively to an invitation to organise Africa day events and that celebrations would take place in Cork, Galway, Dublin Kildare, Laois, Limerick, Meath, Waterford and Wexford.

Dublin City Council has confirmed it does not plan to hold an event on a similar scale to the Farmleigh celebration but that it will support smaller events across the capital.

Local authorities were invited on April 5th to apply to the department for “financial and practical supports” to organise Africa Day events for May 25th. The closing date for applications was five days later on April 10th.

The Irish Aid division of the Department of Foreign Affairs has been running the annual Africa Day celebrations since 2006, with particular focus on the free cultural celebration in the Phoenix Park, an event which attracted some 15,500 visitors last year.

Disappointment

In a statement, the migrant women’s network Akidwa said it was “disappointed” by the department’s new approach to the Africa Day celebrations.

“The short notice of the new arrangements and the five-day deadline for funding applications will certainly mean there is less time to prepare, resulting in smaller events or no celebrations at all,” said Akidwa, adding that organisations involved in Africa Day planning were not informed of the decision to cancel the celebration at Farmleigh house.

Akidwa underlined the important role the event in Phoenix Park had played in challenging negative stereotypes and attitudes about Africans living in Ireland. “The flagship Africa Day festival at Farmleigh has been an uplifting opportunity to share the sights, sounds and culture of the continent of Africa with the wider Irish community. Cancelling the event represents a lost opportunity.”

Akidwa has called on the department to reconsider its decision and resume hosting the annual celebration at Phoenix Park from 2020.

Africa Day commemorates the foundation of the African Union, which took place in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia on May 25th, 1963. It is celebrated in cities across the world. On the africaday.ie website, Irish Aid is described as the “driving force” behind the celebrations, which highlight “how Africans and people with African heritage have integrated into Irish society and enriched the communities in which they live”.