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Africa Day

International Celebration of Africa Day in Switzerland

Biel, Switzerland - To create synergy among people from different parts of Africa and Switzerland, the Komagata family hosted 12 people from different African countries at a March meeting to plan an event in honor of Africa Day. Each representative brought creativity and great interest in the goal of organizing a unique program to showcase Africa and its culture. This organizing committee continued meeting as a whole and in small groups as well as communicating through e-mails.

One person provided the press release that I sent to the news media and accompanied me to an interview with the local radio station. A small delegation met the director of social services of the city, who arranged for a donation to help underwrite the program.

We had no idea how many people would come to our May 21 gathering at the Farel House. After opening remarks by a city councilor originally from Albania, a video of the Africa Day 2010 celebration in New York was shown. Then I presented a UPF view of restoration, emphasizing the importance of living for the sake of others as well as developing our heart in the family. I concluded by stating that we should work together to catalyze a culture of heart in our city, country, and Africa.

This was followed by a play centered on the topic of peace, in which the actors humorously showed some stereotypes and clichés about Africans.

Michelot Yogogombaye from Chad moderated a panel discussion on the topic: "How can we contribute to peace in Africa from here?" Speakers included Ricardo Lumengo, originally from Angola and the first and only black member of the Swiss Parliament; Naïma Serroukh, a Muslim peace activist from Morocco; our daughter Noëmie Komagata, a university student who shared about her experiences in Cote d'Ivoire during an international volunteer program; and Heiner Handschin, Secretary General of UPF-Europe II, who spoke of the ways UPF contributes to peace through its work at the UN.

After many constructive interventions from the public, one of which came from the vice president of the forum for the integration of migrants in Switzerland, who rejoiced that young people were investing themselves in Africa, food from different countries was graciously served to the guests, who by then totaled 120.

The stage was then open to presentations from different countries, starting with an African tale with deep meaning. People from Togo, Cameroon, and Somalia sang and danced for the pleasure of the public.

This event provided an opportunity to work with representatives of different African countries who may not always get along well together. It gave UPF the opportunity to serve Africans, offering a stage to show their skills and share their pride in their culture with others. A journalist listened to the presentations with great interest.

My Japanese husband and I organize local Ambassadors for Peace events four times a year, but this was the first event of this type. We expect to develop other such events in different cities and on a larger scale.

To watch a 5-minute video of highlights of the event, click here.
For a 52-minute audio file of the panel discussion, in French, click here.

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