On Monday 30th May a big event “Africa Day” took place in the beautiful Kasteel de Wittenburg in Wassenaar. All the African Ambassadors resided in The Hague were present and about 200 guests were all received by them at the entrance.
The welcome speech was given by the Ambassador of Tanzania, H.E. Mrs. Irene F.M. Kasyanju, also the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps. This year’s celebration was of particular importance to her as it marked the end of her duty as Ambassador of Tanzania to the Netherlands, a position she happily served for over 6 ½ years, which according to her could not have been possible without the unwavering support she received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Group of Ambassadors and the entire Diplomatic Corps fraternity. She expressed her sincere appreciation of thank you to them.
She also extended her gratitude to all African Ambassadors for their commitment, guidance and material support ensuring this event to become a success. She remained hopeful that the strong gesture of true friendship and collaboration among the African States will continue to radiate in other occasions, mentioning that is the Ubuntu spirit which is always cherished in Africa.
Africa Day which is celebrated each year on the 25th of May is an important date in the history of their continent as it commemorates the founding of the first Union of Africa countries (OAU) in 1963, which was later transformed into the current African Union (AU) in order to have a more stable and prosperous Africa, therefore they gathered to remember that day and to reflect on how they have gone, what has been achieved, and what needs to be done in the future in order to build the “The Africa We Want”.
This year’s Africa Day Theme is: “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: Strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development” is of paramount importance and very impertinent. The theme is not only critical to achieving the AU Agenda 2063 and transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future, as envisioned by their Heads of State and Government; but also offers an opportunity to boost intra-African trade through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was operationalized in January 2021, and indeed showcase that Africa is the future the world has been waiting for. A continent in which more than half of the Earth’s arable land – roughly 600 million hectares – is located, should not suffer food insecurity or malnutrition. This year’s theme certainly offers an impetus in the pursuit of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa.
Indeed, Africa is richly endowed with vast human and natural resources which, if harnessed in accordance with their vision, Agenda 2063, will improve the livelihoods of the peoples of Africa. A continent of 1.3 billion plus people, where 60% of their population is represented by their youth, below the ages of 25 and boast a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $ 2.6 trillion across our 55 Member States, if they move together in unity the ‘Africa We Want’, will not be an agenda but a reality. Cognizance of this endowment, African countries made reasonable progress to align agricultural and other policies, programs, and investments related to food security and nutrition with the Zero Hunger Vision and SDG 2 which aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Africa Day is the moment to celebrate the richness of their continent in terms of culture, traditions, history, and more importantly their unity. That unity, among others, is evident in the UNESCO’s decision in November 2021 to set 7th July as the World Kiswahili language Day – the official day to celebrate the Kiswahili language; as well as February’s 2022 African Union’s Heads of State decision to approve Kiswahili, the Pan African language, as an official working language of the bloc. They need to promote this unifying language, spoken by over 100 million people in Africa, for the wider communication and implementation of AU Decisions.
Before Ambassador Kasyanju ended her speech, she left the audience with an inspirational quote by Tanzania’s founding Father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the driving force behind the movement and firm believer of promoting Kiswahili for African unity, in his speech given in Accra, Ghana, 6 March 1997, and she quoted: “Unity will not make us rich, but it can make it difficult for Africa and the African peoples to be disregarded and humiliated”. She finished her words by saying, let us celebrate together the richness of our continent in terms of culture, traditions, and history. The ambiance around here testifies to that. She wished all those present a wonderful Africa Day 2022 celebration.
After her speech, the Ambassador of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Hatem Elsayed Mohamed Kamaleldin gave a speech, mentioning that Africa is open to cooperation with all international partners, in building the future of Africa within a cooperative and a sustainable partnership framework that safeguards the fair achievement of mutual interests and contributes to promote stability and prosperity of their world. Africa day where the spirit of African synergy, profound cooperation and integration are the basis of the continent and where all the peoples of Africa around the globe are bound together and progressing in line with the vision of their founding fathers. Long live Africa.
Then there was a speech of the Guest of Honour, H.E. Mrs. Carola van Rijnsoever, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and concluded by a toast of the Ambassador of Algeria, H.E. Mrs. Salina Abdelhak.
After the group photo of all the Ambassadors, there were two cultural group performances from Tanzania and Morocco. There was a delicious, colorful buffet of dishes of all the participating African countries which was very much appreciated by all those present. Most of the African guests wore a very beautiful colorful national dress. It was an unforgettable event and very well organized.
Written by Nanda Jagusiak-Monteiro