Hundreds of young families, many of them African, celebrated in the grounds of Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park today.
Despite intermittent heavy showers the mood was buoyant, thanks in no small part to the ever-present rhythm of African drums.
They were there to mark Africa Day, the event held on May 25th each year to mark the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
On that date in 1963, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed a founding charter at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. In 1991 the OAU became the African Union.
The Dublin celebrations followed similar events in Cork, Limerick and Galway yesterday.
Afrobeat Music on the main stage at Farmleigh featured African and Irish groups such as Kila, the Irish and Nigerian group Tig Linn and Ireland's foremost afrobeat band, Colours Afrobeat Foundation.
Goal, Irish Aid and Trócaire provided stalls as did many countries, including Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and Lesotho.
Speaking at the event, Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello said: "Ireland has a lot to be proud of in what we have achieved through partnership with African countries in fighting poverty and hunger."
Promoting partnership “also means building mutual understanding and awareness of the diversity of Africa here in Ireland. We need to be proactive to offset some of the more negative preconceptions people can hold,” he said.
Democracy Dean of African ambassadors to Ireland and Moroccan ambassador Anas Khales said events on May 25th, 1963, marked Africa's emergence from colonialism as well as a determination to promote a future as Africans and to build democracy.
He said that a mutual experience of colonialism meant “Africans can speak easy to Irish people.”
A week of celebration in Cork ended yesterday with a parade through the city featuring musicians and dancers from African countries along with céilí dancers.
In Galway it was marked at Merlin College secondary school at Doughiska on the city's east side, where about 20 per cent of the population are of African descent.
Fusion Celebrations in Limerick concluded with a concert at the City Hall last night that featured a fusion of African and Irish music and culture, while tonight the Waterford African Drummers, African Dancers and the African Gospel Choir celebrated at the Garter Lane Arts Centre.
Africa in Tralee will be celebrated in the Kerry town next Saturday.