Earlier this month, the Ismaili Centre Lisbon participated in the annual commemoration of Africa Day, hosting a gathering of guests to enjoy diverse sounds, colours, and tastes, and to reflect on Africa’s future. Africa Day is commemorated on 25 May every year to mark the foundation of the African Union, which works to achieve greater unity, cooperation, peace, and sustainable development on the continent.

The event was organised by the Group of Ambassadors of African countries in Portugal with the support of the Aga Khan Development Network. The chief guest on this occasion was the Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Teresa Ribeiro, who joined other participants, including the Head of State Protocol, the Diplomatic Adviser of the Presidency of the Republic, Senior Officers of the Foreign Office, the Diplomatic Community, and members of African communities and civil society organisations based in Portugal, and leaders of Imamat and Jamati institutions. 

As in previous years, the programme featured a craft fair, a fashion parade, a luncheon, and musical performances, and was an opportunity to reflect on the development of the countries on the African continent, as highlighted in the remarks made during the official proceedings.

Luzia Moniz, President of the Platform for the Development of African Women (PADEMA) noted the recent devastation in Mozambique caused by hurricane Idai, highlighting the importance of working to address climate change, and preserving the planet for future generations.

Nazim Ahmad, Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat to the Portuguese Republic, highlighted the connections between the Ismaili community and Africa, as well as the important presence of AKDN agencies in many countries of Africa. He noted that the “confidence in the African continent as well as the commitment to improve the quality of life for the people in Africa remains unwavering.”

AKDN institutions work in 11 countries in Eastern, Western, and North Africa, across social development, economic development, and culture. In Portuguese-speaking Mozambique in particular, AKDN has been active in health, education, agriculture, and humanitarian assistance since 1998.

In her keynote address, Secretary of State Teresa Ribeiro highlighted Portugal’s role in aiding the socio-economic development of African countries, and reiterated the commitment to cooperate with other countries in order to assist communities to address their challenges.

The Ismaili Centre Lisbon played host to Portugal’s celebration of Africa Day for the third consecutive year, emphasising its multipurpose nature and the welcoming atmosphere of its building and gardens. The Centre stands as a symbol of the permanent presence of the Ismaili community, and aims to serve civil society in Portugal, through the creation of bridges between people and cultures, along with the promotion of knowledge and pluralism — all in a spirit of dialogue and respect.