14 April started as a grey spring day, but in the afternoon the sun broke through for a while! At the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), it was immediately warm as ever! Africa Day 2018 was about to begin. The Marble Hall quickly filled up with visitors who did not want to miss anything from the programme.
"We need to work in equal partnerships"
The day was opened by FMS director Arjen Berkvens, after which KIT director Mark Schneiders gave us all a warm welcome to the beautiful KIT, also the first SDG house in the world! Then the floor was given to Ernst Stetter, Secretary General of the FEPS and organiser of the day in cooperation with FMS. "International cooperation is key for development and sustainability.
The theme of the day was, of course, 'new activism', and who better to talk about this than activists themselves? Led by OneWorld's new editor-in-chief Seada Nourhussen, activists Moses Isooba of Africans Rising and Tikhala Itaye of interacted with each other about their activism. Collaboration is important, an "equal partnership". Or as Moses put it, "We need to break down those barriers of protection". Diaspora is also important here!
Activism and the SDGs: a happy marriage?
After the opening, we chatted for a while with politicians, activists and NGOs about the importance of activism within the new SDG agenda. To implement these new development goals, activists are crucial, said Sascha Gabizon of WECF. But activist Justus from Nigeria added: "Africa needs rapid implementation of these goals!" So plenty of work still to do!
There was also room during this debate for the MPs present to set out their priorities for the coming years. Anne Kuik (CDA) and Kirsten van den Hul (PvdA) were happy to take advantage of this. Anne emphasised that not the entire development cooperation budget should be fixed, but that there should also be room for emergency aid, for instance. Kirsten also talked about the term "third world", for example: "We are one world and equal". In a few weeks, the new policy of Minister Kaag (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) is expected, so that will show how hard they will have to fight for their priorities in the Chamber.
Prioritising people and planet
Last term, progressive leaders from around the world came together to ensure that globalisation will be positive, but above all progressive! But how to achieve this? The Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) has drawn up a number of recommendations here and that is what this Africa Day was all about. After all, what answers should there be to global challenges such as migration and climate change? Party leader of the PvdA, Nelleke Vedelaar, for instance, stressed the importance of getting more in touch with your supporters and their "real-life stories". Only then can you find the right answers.
#SheDecides: "When she decides, she can have the life she deserves"
With both initiator Lilianne Ploumen (PvdA) and Tikhale Itaye present, it could not be otherwise than that SheDecides would become an important theme this Africa Day. And it became just that! During the opening, Tikhala already gave a foretaste of this by emphasising that: "She has a 'he' in it, so men also need to be involved!" Lilianne revealed during several sessions that the work of #SheDecides is not finished yet. And you can join too by signing the manifesto.
Want to read more? During the Labour Party workshop on SheDecides, MP Kirsten van den Hul spoke in a lovely column which you can read back here.
Albert Schweitzer Prize 2018
On Africa Day 2018, the Albert Schweitzer Prize 2018 was also awarded to the person with the best initiative to improve healthcare in Africa. The expert jury chose Iris and Milou's project "A step towards the future" and they were awarded a prize of €5,000 to start their project. But all Africa Day visitors could also vote for their favourite project. With a record number of votes, the project "Mothers on the move" was awarded the audience prize of €1,000!
Art of Resistance
Another great success was the special edition of the iAfrica Festival. With dancers from The Lion King, art and a master class by Vamba Sherif, the Small Hall was a great place to be all afternoon!
MASSIF Fund, migration, and much more...
As every year, there were too many workshops at Africa Day to go by them all. FMO, for instance, held an interesting session on the MASSIF Fund. Because, "If a country can feed itself, it's the first crucial step into the right direction".
There were also several workshops on migration, including from the Greens in the European Parliament. With statements such as "reception in the region sounds like a political slogan, a political answer, but not a solution" and "legal migration as a 'bargaining chip' for illegal migration through seasonal work", it was a robust and interesting debate.
The Africa Day Market was bustling all day. With a photobooth, lots of quizzes and competitions (and great prizes!) and much more information, there was something for everyone. Athenaeum Bookstore, as usual, had the most beautiful books on Africa ready again and at OneWorld's stand you could get the latest OneWorld. Will you also become a friend of OneWorld? Then you will receive it on your doormat every month!
FEPS and FMS would like to use this opportunity to thank all visitors, partners, speakers, volunteers, artists, performers and caterers for participating in Africa Day 2018.