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Africa Day

Africa Day Celebrated in Siberia and St. Petersburg

Africa Day was celebrated in two Russian cities. A festival in honor of the African Diaspora was held in Novosibirsk on May 25. After a video, Africans living in Siberia talked about their native countries, performed a folk dance, and cooked an African meal for everyone to enjoy. Also on May 25, children in St. Petersburg made drawings and origami cranes with goodwill messages to send to children in Africa, and school supplies were collected for African students. A round table on June 19 assembled scholars and activists from Russia and Africa to discuss progress over the past 50 years since the establishment of the Organization of African Unity.

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Novosibirsk - A festive meeting in honor of the African Diaspora was held in Novosibirsk for the second year in a row. On May 25, the participants welcomed handsome young African students in national clothing. The program started with welcoming words and a video presentation about Africa Day. Thereafter, two students from the Republic of Ghana shared about their homeland and performed a folk dance accompanied by a drum beat. Participants also welcomed students from Cameroon, Nigeria, and the USA.

The bright presentation about family traditions of the peoples of Africa made a lasting impression on the listeners. A Young Ambassador for Peace, Don Adello Bello, told in detail about the process of creating and preserving the family in Africa. Listeners wouldn’t let him off the scene, and they asked him many questions. Then followed a cooking class about how to prepare an African dinner. With his apron on, Don started cooking chicken, turkey, beef, and fish. During the process of cooking, the guests took the initiative and began sharing impressions about the meeting. For many of them, it was the first time to celebrate the Day of Africa and meet the inhabitants of this continent. One of the guests expressed his appreciation about how lovingly the Africans talked about their homeland, and he addressed this question to the Russian quests: "If we were abroad, could we share about our Russia with such love and offer samples of a national dish?"

When the meal was ready, all joyfully tasted it to the accompaniment of songs and drumming. The food was excellent.

Finally, all watched the feature film "The United Africa." After the film, the participants of the meeting shared their impressions. Here are some comments of the guests:

Ksenia: "The program of the day was so intense that it lasted till the late evening, but the participants and guests were very happy with this! During the conference everyone could get access to the African culture - learn about family traditions, try very specific cuisine of Africa, and practice our English in conversation with our wonderful friendly guests. It was a truly great day!"

Eugene: "Thanks to this event we all had a chance to meet unusual people and to get acquainted with their culture, history, traditions, and cuisine. I think this meeting was wholesome for all the participants. We met with friendly people, so unlike us inhabitants of Siberia. It turned out that we knew very little about Africa and sometimes were biased against Africans. This attitude has to be changed. We should eliminate the shameful, ignorant aggression against other peoples. In peacebuilding is impossible to achieve significant results by limited considerations about peaceful initiatives and imposing our "script" of peace. We need to study the cultures of different peoples, feel them deeply, and try to understand them. Ignorance and aggression could be cured by mutual understanding, which is so lacking today in the population of the developed nations. I would like to thank all participants of Africa Day for their efforts to share with us goodness and hope. I would like such meetings to be an annual event and the number of participants to always grow. My heartfelt thanks to all the participants in the meeting!"

St. Petersburg

A celebration of Africa Day took place in St. Petersburg on May 25. First, Elena Mikhailova, Ambassador for Peace and Chairman of the Women's Federation for World Peace in St. Petersburg, described the history and purpose of this day commemorating the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at the first Conference of the states and the governments of African nations that took place in Addis Ababa in 1963. Many countries honor this as African Liberation Day.

In his message on the occasion of Africa Day, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged people to unite their efforts to help them women and children on the African continent; he also emphasized the important role of youth.

Then the younger children were asked to draw pictures for children from Cameroon. The older children made origami cranes, symbolizing peace and friendship; on the birds’ wings they wrote warm words of greeting to their distant peers. Adult participants became acquainted with the life of the peoples of Africa and African songs by watching a video.

Organizers assembled a parcel weighing 7 kg which contains children's drawings and paper cranes to send to Africa to congratulate distant friends on Africa Day. In addition, all participants were asked to bring school supplies that could be useful to the children in far away Africa. Many took this idea with enthusiasm, promising to bring stationery items very soon.

A round table related to the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity – African Union took place in a conference hall of the Urban Sculpture Museum on June 19. Among the participants were: Aliu Tunkara, Chairman of the Association of African Unity; Issa, Chairman of the Malian Diaspora in Russia; Maniraghena Valence, Ambassador for Peace and Chairman of the Ichumbi Rwanda club Rwanda; Abdul Aziz Maiga, Chairman of the Malian Diaspora in St. Petersburg; Zheltov, A. representative of the Oriental faculty of St. Petersburg University; Anna Lebedkova, representative of the Urban Sculpture Museum; Ekaterina Smirnova, European University of St. Petersburg; Anna Siim, senior researcher at the Moscow Ethnological Academy (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and Tatiana Krasnosuymova, Secretary General of UPF-Northwest Russia.

During the round table, the participants talked about successes and failures of the African Union. The speeches given by the participants were interesting, sincere, and objective. At the end of the meeting, Tatiana Krasnosumova gave the school supplies collected for African children to representatives of Mali, who promised to deliver them in the near future. Donors hope that these gifts will bring distant friends joy and raise their spirits.

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