On the 28th of May 2022, Africa Unite, in partnership with Western Cape affiliated museums hosted an Africa Day Celebration at the Gardens Commercial High School in Cape Town, addressing the rising phenomenon of Afrophobia and how it affects both local and non-nationals living in South Africa. The audience was comprised of youth from MARs Youth Empowerment, Africa Unite School Club, Lwandle Museum and Umoja for Africa as well as a few stakeholders.
Upon arrival, the audience enjoyed a musical performance by the Gardens Commercial Marimba band followed by an official welcome. The two moderators gave an overview of the program and provided background information on Africa Unite and its youth projects.
The event kicked off with its first highlight – a roleplay performance directed and staged by members of MAR’s Youth Empowerment, a movement of young migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa. The play depicted the issue of xenophobia in both a humorous and thought-provoking manner. The actors and script writers received standing ovations for their performance and afterwards, we had the pleasure of having the head of UNHCR Cape Town, Ms. Kiran Kaur, who shared a message of support to the MAR’s youth.
Next, the audience got split into small groups for discussions on how to best deal with the increasing Afrophobia on a local and government level. The discussions brought forward many captivating ideas but due to time only six groups could present their recommendations on stage. It was highlighted that schools must play a pivotal role in breaking stereotypes and promoting social cohesion but that the main issues that need to be addressed are high unemployment, crime, and the lengthy process of acquiring proper documentation as a foreigner.
Next, the audience got treated two very powerful poetry performances by Farayi Nyahuye and Petro Mbwanya, the finalists of this year’s Africa Day Competition, which invited the youth to submit poetry, art and music under the motto “No African is a foreigner in Africa”. After their performances, both poets shared their personal experiences with Afrophobia and reminded the audience of the importance of showing empathy and remembering the roots of Africans. Another highlight was the interactive activity “My African Dream” where the 140 audience members had to write their dreams and hopes for the African continent on 54 balloons. This was concluded by letting these African Dream balloons fly off on stage.
Before closing we had the pleasure to listen to poet Sinako Mphephlo from Dr. Nelson Mandela, the winner of the Africa Day competition with her poem titled “Africa”. The event ended with some heartwarming words by Helene Vollgraaff from Cape Town Museum, the head partner of this event.
Overall, the purpose of the event was to raise awareness on xenophobia, promote social cohesion between locals and non-citizens as well as remind everyone of the richness and diversity of the African continent. Feedback showed that all of this was achieved, and that the audience is hungry for similar events. We would like to thank all participants and stakeholders, especially Gardens Commercial High School for providing their beautiful hall and marimba band as well as Cape Town Museum for their wonderful support to Africa Unite.