AFRICA CELEBRATES 2023 SHOWCASES UNITY IN DIVERSITY & CULTURAL RENASCENCE
By Yemisi Suleiman
In an unforgettable three-day extravaganza of African hospitality, Africa Celebrates 2023 shattered expectations with its spectacular event held from October 25th to 27th at the African Union headquarters and Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This year, the celebration witnessed participation from 38 African nations and 11 countries from Asia, Europe, and North and South America, setting a new standard for cultural convergence and international collaboration.
The official opening ceremony, which unfolded on October 25th at the African Union headquarters, was masterfully conducted by Dr. Oswald Chinyamakobvu, of the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union.
Delivering his welcome address, Mr Lexy Mojo-Eyes, the President/CEO of Legendary Gold Limited and the driving force behind Africa Celebrates, emphasized that the mission is celebrating Africa’s unity in diversity by fostering economic, social, and political integration across the continent. He noted that Africa Celebrates serves as a platform for promoting Africa’s rich art, culture, heritage, trade, investment, science, and technology, all while encouraging the consumption of “Made in Africa” products. He passionately expressed, “We need to wear our clothes, eat our food, listen to our music, watch our films, enjoy our dance, and do business with each other.” The event further seeks to boost intra and inter-African trade, investment, and tourism, with a strong emphasis on supporting and empowering women and youth in wealth creation.
Her Excellency, Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Social Development, Culture & Sports of the African Union, was represented by Olubusayo Akinola (PhD) during the opening remarks. Additional remarks were made by distinguished guests, including Ambassadors Nasir Aminu and Willy Nyamitwe, Nigeria and Burundi Ambassadors to Ethiopia and the African Union. Further addresses were by Mikael Cleverly, Charge d’ Affairs of the US delegation to the African Union, and His Excellency, Jantirar Abay, Deputy Mayor of Addis Ababa.
The event’s keynote addresses were eloquently delivered by Hon. Joseph Ole Lenku EGH, the governor of the County Government of Kajiado, Kenya, and Hon. Haidara Aichata Cisse, honorary Vice President of the Pan African Parliament.
The lineup of speakers also included co-organizers of various components within Africa Celebrates, such as Mary Flowers, Founder of Southern California based Africa – American company, GGDG, Bea Hackula, Founder, of Africa for Africa Women’s Conference, Joseph Ehigiamusoe, UK based Co-Founder, of Diaspora Africa Konnect, Chief (Dr) Amb Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, Nigerian top filmmaker and Executive Director of Afro Film Alliance and Solomon Kassa.
A high-level panel session, titled “Building the Economic Landscape to Optimize Investment Opportunities in the African Culture & Tourism Sector,” was expertly moderated by Mr. Cuthbert Ncube, President of the African Tourism Board, and featured notable participants like Hon. Rizik Zakaria Hassan, Minister of Wildlife Conservation & Tourism of South Sudan, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, immediate past Minster of Culture & Tourism of Nigeria, HRH Zolani Mkiva, member of South African Parliament and head of the Institute of African Royalty and Sagno Stella Aicha, highly accomplished UNESCO attained music artist from Burkina Faso.
On the 26th of October, activities shifted to the Skylight Hotel, where various forums and summits ran from 9 am to 5 pm. These included the Africa Global Economic & Development Summit, the Pan African Women Empowerment Summit with Dr. Joyce Hilda Banda, former President of Malawi as the Keynote Speaker, the Afro Film Alliance workshop, a capacity building scheme for young African filmmakers, and Diaspora Africa Konnect sessions. Africa Celebrates’ commitment to connecting African Diaspora globally with the continent was clearly evident during these sessions.
The evening of the 26th of October marked the beginning of a vibrant cultural night filled with African music, dance, and delectable cuisines from participating countries. The night showcased performances and culinary delights from Mali, Burundi, Algeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, and South Sudan.
The 27th of October saw half-day sessions for various components of Africa Celebrates in preparation for the Gala Fashion, Music, and Awards Night. Attendees arrived dressed in their finest African attires, a testament to the event’s emphasis on cultural celebration. The night featured a dazzling fashion show with designers from 19 African countries and an Asian designer, Kima Dongak, highlighting the potential for future collaboration between Africa and other continents. Dance and music performances added to the evening’s excitement, with an electrifying show by the Amagaba dance troupe from Burundi and a stellar musical performance by Nigerian artist Olakira.
The grand finale of Africa Celebrates 2023 was the awards ceremony, where deserving individuals and groups were recognized for their outstanding contributions. Notably, Dr. Joyce Hilda Banda, former President of Malawi, received the highest recognition for her role as an inspiration to African women globally.
Awards were also given to South Sudan for bringing the largest delegation of 75 people to Africa Celebrates 2023 and Amagaba dance troupe from Burundi got the award for the best performing dance troupe. Awards were also presented to Pumela Salela, UK country head, brand South Africa, Ayanda Ncwane, CEO of Ncwane Communications, South Africa, Rosheen Ngorima, founder of Neeps Accounting & Business Management Consulting, Dubai, Dr Annavestah Mudiwa, founder/CEO of Gray Homes Construction, Zimbabwe, amongst others.
The success of Africa Celebrates 2023 was a collaborative effort organized by Legendary Gold Limited, in partnership with the African Union, Embassies of Nigeria & Burundi to Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Africa Tourism Board, and the US delegation to the African Union. Ethiopian Airlines and Skylight Hotel were official airlines and hotels respectively.