After two years of waiting, Saturday 28 May was finally here. Africa Day could take place again! At 10:00 am, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) opened its doors and, as ever, it was once again full of visitors. Three great rounds of workshops followed! Unlike previous years, there was no single theme last Saturday, but the overarching core value of Africa Day took centre stage: the important role of African voices in social discussions. The result was an extensive and, above all, diverse range of workshops.
Workshop rounds - The Dutch Africa Strategy as a recurring theme
The three different rounds featured a total of 30 workshops, with the largest workshops this year taking place in the Tropentheatre. The first round kicked off here with an exciting political debate, with spokespersons from the Labour Party, Party for the Animals, D66 and GroenLinks debating the Rutte IV cabinet's new Africa strategy.
This session was followed up in the second round by a conversation between Jan Pronk and Kiza Magendane; they talked about Africa's rapidly changing role on the world stage, and what it means. Following on from the earlier spokesperson debate, in Round 3, the initial contours and content of the Africa Strategy were discussed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with a special video message from Minister Liesje Schreinemacher.
All three of these sessions can be seen back on YouTube!
Two-track discussion Kiza Magendane and Jan Pronk, with FMS director Arjen Berkvens as moderator
There were also numerous interesting sessions to attend in the other workshop rooms! For example, a workshop on the role of religion in conflict and peacebuilding in Africa, a session on climate justice provided by the FMS and a debate on the reception of African refugees organised by the Lemat Foundation. ActionAid also organised a discussion on the Africa Strategy, but with a unique foray: does this strategy work for women?
Such an interesting review of policies was to be found at IOB, which provided a session analysing public-private financing for climate in Africa. Oxfam Novib and WECF both offered interesting workshops, on the future of food & agriculture and on forest policy in Africa.
Besides these crucial and serious topics, there was also plenty of culture to enjoy. These included a unique theatre performance by Ubuntopia, an inspiring writers' talk by El Hizjra and two great films screened by iAfrica Film Festival. Certainly the cultural workshops were filled to the brim! This is a wonderful compliment to this sector, which has had tough years.
Theatre performance Ubuntopia
Inspiration market and African lunch
Culture also abounded at the inspiration market. Here one could browse among African fashion, artworks by Abu Kanu, handmade elephants, books by the Athenaeum and delicious care products by Urban Africa Naturals, which found their basis in Ghanaian nature. There were also stands from important organisations like ONE Campaign, WECF, FNV, FEPS and many more.
This beautiful day would not have been complete without restaurant Kilimanjaro, which served a delicious African (vegan) lunch during the break. One could enjoy the Eritrean/Ethiopian dish injera; a sourdough pancake served with five flavourful vegetable sauces.
Lunch from Kilimanjaro restaurant
Whereas in previous years the day always started with a grand opening session, this year's Africa Day ended with a large and diverse closing programme.
At the Tropentheatre, people were welcomed by the fun and swinging music of Boule Mpanya's band, followed by a witty cabaret performance by Mo Hersi. After this festive opening, it was the turn of speakers Bert Koenders and Charity Kaluki Ngilu.
"As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest."
This beautiful and still timely quote from Nelson Mandela kicked off the conversation in the closing session. The pandemic, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine have reignited inequalities around the world. While some parts of the world seemed to recover quickly from the COVID-19 years, the same is not true for many parts of the world, such as Africa.
At the same time, the African continent has also shown its resilience. During lockdowns and travel restrictions, people started focusing on their own local production. This has shown that the continent has a tenacious energy and can also meet its own needs.
The session ended with a panel of the inspiring Udo Bullman, Fatten Aggad, Fatima Vally and Mariam Oyiza Aliyu. Udo and Fatten focused on how European policies should be designed differently. The criticism of the West afterwards was fierce but well-founded. Fatima and Mariam knew how to touch the audience. A worthy conclusion to an all in all wonderful day, also viewable via Youtube.
Speech by Charity Kaluki Ngilu in the closing programme
Although the closing programme brought Africa Day 2022 to an end, it is important that discussions on the many interesting issues continue. One of the topics that will become of great importance in the coming period is the Africa Strategy. To discuss this further, it is possible to join the input sessions From Partos.
The FMS would like to thank all visitors, partners, participating organisations, speakers, volunteers, artists, artists and caterers for this great day. Hope to see you all next year! For a more detailed photo report of the day: please visit our Flickr!