No takers for Africa Day flagship event as migrant communities and groups scramble after changes
2019-05-01 14:50:29 -
Art & Culture
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By Chinedu Onyejelem

 

Dublin City Council’s inability to take over the running of Africa Day’s flagship event in Farmleigh House has prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to scrap it, Metro Éireann has learned.

 

It’s understood that in February this year, when the department decided not to contract DHR Communications - which has run the Africa Day programmes, including past events in Cork and Limerick, since its inception — for this year’s event, Dublin City Council was asked to take it over.

 

However, the council felt the time frame was too close and therefore declined the offer.

 

Metro Éireann understands that rather than completely cancel Africa Day events held around the 25 May — the official day of the African Union and which marks African unity — the department decided that holding smaller events in different counties was the way forward.

 

The revelation comes after a statement by the Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development welcoming the suggestion of plans by 10 local authorities to either host or facilitate events to celebrate this year’s Africa Day, without a full explanation as to why the flagship event was cancelled.

 

“I am delighted that local authorities throughout Ireland have responded so positively to our invitation to engage in helping communities to celebrate Africa Day 2019 by leading their own events and celebrations,” Minister Ciarán Cannon said, adding that Irish Aid would support events in Cork, Galway, Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Limerick, Meath, Waterford and Wexford.

 

“While this year we are taking a different approach to marking Africa Day, I am confident that communities will continue to enjoy multiple wonderful opportunities to learn more about how Ireland engages the countries and people of Africa in so many positive ways.

 

“Whether your interest is in cultural activities, African film and music, or African cuisine, I encourage everyone to keep a close eye on our AfricaDay.ie website and Africa Day social media channels as details of these events are finalised over the coming weeks.”

 

However, Africans in Ireland have criticised the decision to scrap the Farmleigh event. In a statement, African migrant women organisation Akidwa said it was “disappointed” but urged the department to reconsider for 2020.

 

“While we welcome efforts to engage more local and rural communities in Africa Day celebrations, we are disappointed in the approach taken by the department, which will bring an end to an occasion which has highlighted positive aspects of the continent of Africa and showcased the work and support of many groups and international organisations since 2006.

 

“In AkiDwA’s view, the annual Africa Day celebration has been a greatly anticipated annual event that provided an exciting opportunity to celebrate diversity and raise awareness of international development. The event had the support of thousands of attendees and consistently gained the media support to reach a wide range of people all over Ireland.

 

“Additionally, the event drew visitors from other countries to celebrate Africa Day in Ireland, which reflects the Department’s leadership in building an international reputation for the event.”

 

AkiDwA said that “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”.

 

And it expressed its disappointment that there was “no discussion with communities” before the Africa Day changes were made.

 

“Further, organisations and groups who had been involved in the advisory group for planning for Africa Day were not informed before the decision to cancel the Farmleigh event,” it said, adding that the move comes as the Department of Justice and Equality has started working with Africans in Ireland on a programme of action for the International Decade for People of African Descent.

 

In its response to Metro Éireann, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it “continues to support local authorities across Ireland in celebrating Africa Day.

 

“This year, building on the traditional engagement with local authorities outside Dublin, the four Dublin local authorities were invited by the department to nominate Africa Day events in their areas – events which will bring together people in their communities to celebrate Africa.

 

“Ten local authorities across Ireland will be co-ordinating these important community celebrations this year.”

TAGS : Africa Day community celebrate heritage
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