The ACTION Support Centre celebrated the Africa Day in style
with a month long celebrations, many thanks to the Department of Arts and Culture which funded a series of activities. The various events brought together the continent of Africa living in South Africa to collectively reconnect and recommit themselves in support of all government interventions to develop a better Africa and a better world. The events involved many progressive South African civil society organisations, Africa Diaspora formations, traditional leaders and schools. The events celebrated a shared vision of building a better Africa and a better world, nation building, social cohesion and harmony and Pan-African culture of people-to-people solidarity, including addressing the issues of xenophobia, criminal violence, racism and Afrophobia. Highly respected artists, legends, speakers and government officials played a significant role during the events.
The first event under the theme “BUILDING A BETTER AFRICA AND A BETTER WORLD”, saw weekly debating sessions, which ran for three consecutive weeks, with 150 learners participating. The learners were debriefed during the months of January and February 2016 and received the topics, and the follow-ups were done during March and April 2016. The eleven schools that participated throughout the program were from the Gauteng Province and the High schools were as follows; Ivory Park, Westbury, Riverlea, Princess, Tulip, Orlando, Fidelities, Marlboro, North view, Star school and Sakhisizwe. The debates tackled specific topics on Migration and Xenophobia, racism, culture, stereotyping and social cohesion, migration, xenophobia, racism, culture, stereotyping. The events ensured the celebration of cultural diversity. The main event on the 25th of May 2016 was graced by the MMC of Health and Social Development, Executive Director of Social Development, Deputy Chair of Sports Arts and Culture and King Bongane 111 from Limpopo who reside in Alexandra Township. The Africa day celebrations saw the presentation of awards such as trophies, and certificates and gifts to the four winning schools namely, 1st Marlboro Gardens; Fidelities Comp Secondary; and Orlando Secondary school. Poems and speeches from learners and the King centered on how discrimination and stereotyping derails social cohesion in South Africa.
Great events that were inclusive of all age groupings took place in three provinces of South Africa, namely Westbury in the Gauteng province, Kromkrans in Mpumalanga and KwaMashu in KwaZulu Natal. Celebrations were centered on cultural diversity through traditional dances, drama, music, poetry, oral African history exchanges, solidarity messages in support of struggles around the continent and the world and messages against xenophobia and racism. Stalls showcasing African cultural food, literature, attire and history were on display.
Watching South African nationals and non-South Africans in their diversity the Africa Day was a vehicle to unite a divided people of the African continent through the appreciation of our cultures, sharing of talents and up-liftment of each other as the celebrations sought to strengthen social, cultural, economic and political integration among African nations. These events increased economic opportunities for local artists; cultural diplomacy and also bridged the gaps between policy makers and the ordinary people as they interacted together.