Africa Day is commemorated in many countries around the world on 25 May every year to celebrate progress made across the continent’s nations, and to intensify efforts in education and healthcare for Africa’s positive progress. The day also marks the anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity.
As in previous years, the event at the Ismaili Centre featured a craft fair, a musical performance, and a lunch with a selection of cuisines from various African countries. The day offered an opportunity to reflect on the development of Africa, as highlighted in the remarks made at the official ceremony.
Chief guest Paulo Cafôfo, Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities, was joined by Senior Officers from the Foreign Office, the Diplomatic Community, members of African communities, civil society organisations, along with leaders of the Jamat and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
AKDN agencies are present in 11 countries in East, North, and West Africa, and work in the areas of social and economic development, and the restoration of cultural heritage.
In his opening address, Rahim Firozali, President of the Ismaili Council for Portugal, welcomed guests to the Ismaili Centre. He explained that the Centre is a space for encounters, where individuals come together to find solutions to the fundamental problems of society.
The Secretary of State, in his speech, highlighted Portugal’s role in assisting the development of African countries and reiterated the commitment to cooperate with others in assisting communities to address their issues of concern. He also noted that Portugal will co-host the United Nations Ocean Conference in June and July 2022, alongside Kenya.
The Ocean conference, to be held in Lisbon, will aim to promote innovative solutions to the challenges brought about by overfishing, plastic waste, and pollution of seas and waterways.
Also speaking at the event, Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea, Tito Mba Ada, President of the Group of Ambassadors of African Countries in Portugal, recalled the challenges that the African continent currently faces in several areas including migration and socio-economic development.
This event was hosted at the Ismaili Centre Lisbon for the fourth time, reflecting the deep relationship of the Ismaili Imamat’s institutions with African countries and the Government of Portugal. It also embodied the vision behind the establishment of the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon, namely, to be of service to Portuguese society and beyond, through the creation of bridges between people and cultures, the promotion of knowledge, dialogue, and pluralism, in a spirit of tolerance and respect.