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50 Years of the African Union to be celebrated in Ireland

Development Education, News/feature, Ireland, Africa, 2013
MoS Costello launches Africa Day 2013 in celebration of 50 years of the African Union

Programme of events to mark Africa Day have been announced in celebration of 50 years of the African Union.


Thursday, 9th May 2013


50 Years of the African Union to be celebrated in Ireland


– Minister Joe Costello Announces Programme of Events for Africa Day


The Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, today (09.05.13) announced a nationwide programme of events to mark Africa Day 2013.

The main event will be a family day in the grounds of Farmleigh Estate in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Sunday, 26th May.  Regional events will take place during the same week in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

Launching the programme, Minster Costello said: “Africa Day this year marks 50 years of the African Union, at a time of unprecedented opportunity for the continent.  This occasion provides an opportunity for all Africans – including those who have made Ireland their home – to celebrate Africa, its people and their potential. 

“The 50th anniversary of the African Union is an opportunity to underline a change in the general narrative on Africa from despair and hopelessness to the potential of inclusive economic growth and the building of democratic institutions.

“Africa Day will provide a platform to celebrate so much that African nations have achieved, as well as the rich and diverse culture and heritage of the Union’s member-nations.  Ireland is one of the few countries outside the African Union to celebrate Africa Day in a very public way.  By supporting Africa Day again in 2013, we are highlighting our confidence and hope for the continent, and for our relationship with it in the years to come.”

The programme of Africa Day events in Ireland is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  In addition to celebrating African unity during Africa Day, Irish Aid aims to increase public awareness of Ireland’s overseas development programme, which is strongly focused on sub-Saharan Africa.

The Africa Day events planned for 2013 will see free public performances by well-known African and Irish musicians; children’s entertainment; art exhibitions; traditional African drumming and dance workshops; sports tournaments; and an Africa Day book club.


The national flagship event for Africa Day will take place from 11am to 5pm on Sunday, 26th May, in the grounds of Farmleigh Estate in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.  This will be a family-focused event, and will be free of charge to attend.  Highlights will include:

  • An ‘African Bazaar’ with stalls from over 20 different African countries, offering food, drumming, dance, hair-braiding, henna hand-painting and lots more.  In addition to African community groups, a range of development NGOs will be present in the bazaar, offering fun activities, while the African embassies in Ireland will also be represented at the event. 
  • Main stage performances by Discovery Gospel Choir, Niwel Tsumbu, The Amazing Few, Stone&Jezreel, Madu and Gypsy Rebel Rabble. 
  • A dedicated rap and hip-hop stage, featuring up-and-coming artists and showcasing emerging talent.
  • Public discussions on the achievements of the African Union over the past 50 years, and the changing relationship between Ireland and Africa. 
  • Children’s activities, including face-painting, mask-making, storytelling and sports.
  • The Africa Day book club public discussion, featuring special guests – including travel writer Manchán Magan, broadcaster Orla Barry and South African children’s author Thabi Madide – giving their thoughts on the novel ‘How to Read the Air’ by the Ethiopian / American author Dinaw Mengestu. 

Regional Events

In Limerick, a week-long programme of events is being coordinated by Limerick City Council to mark Africa Day 2013.  Highlights will include:

  • Drumming, storytelling and art workshops.
  • A symposium on development and trade in the Hunt Museum on Thursday, 23rd May, run in conjunction with the University of Limerick. 
  • An ‘Africa and Ireland in Harmony’ concert at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday, 23rd May. 
  • A ‘sportsfest’ and family fun day at the Crescent College in Dooradoyle on Saturday, 25th May. 
  • An African-themed workshop in the Limerick City Gallery of Art on Saturday, 25th May.

In Cork, the City Council is also coordinating a range of Africa Day events.  On Thursday, 23rd May, Cork’s Centre for Development and Integration will host a seminar on contemporary African issues in the Community Arts Building.  On Saturday, 25th May, a procession of African music and dance will take place from Grand Parade to Emmet Place.  After music and acrobatic performances at Emmet Place, the Cork celebrations will culminate in an afternoon of cultural performances, carnival games and African food at the Camden Palace Hotel, a community art resource in the city centre.

In Galway, an African film festival will run from 24th to 27th May, featuring short films, documentaries, comedies and dramas from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal.  A soccer tournament will also take place in Galway, and the Africa Day celebrations will conclude with a cultural evening on Saturday, 25th May, showcasing art, music and food from a range of African countries.

Africa Day activities in Waterford will have a strong focus on local schools.  The City Council is working with the Waterford One World Centre and the Garter Lane Arts Centre to offer schools screenings of ‘The First Grader’, an award-winning film based on the true story of a Kenyan man who enrolled in primary school in his eighties, after the Kenyan Government announced free primary education in 2003.  Each screening will be followed by a workshop, and it is expected that 300 local students will participate in these workshops on 27th and 28th May.  A free public screening of ‘The First Grader’ will also take place – in the Garter Lane Arts Centre at 6.30pm on Monday, 27th May.    

The full programme of activities for Africa Day – as well as background information about the initiative – is available on www.africaday.ie





Contact: Catherine Heaney / Emily Kelly, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-2309835 / 087-9759248 or Michael Treacy, Irish Aid on 01- 408 2660 / 087-9372324.


Note for Editors:

  • Africa Day, which falls on 25th May annually, is the official day of the African Union and marks African unity.  In Ireland, events to mark Africa Day celebrate African diversity and the cultural and economic potential of the continent, in addition to raising awareness of the development challenges that remain and the progress that is being achieved. 
  • Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development.  It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Further information is available at www.irishaid.ie.