Contributor: Fatima Zahra Fatih | Editor: Supriyono
On the evening of May 29, 2023, the Hotel Borobudur Jakarta came alive with the spirit of Africa as diplomats and fellow Africans from various countries gathered in one place to commemorate the Africa Day 2023. Eight African students from the Universitas Internasional Indonesia (UIII) joined the event with pride.
The annual celebration was organized to honor the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)—currently known as the African Union (AU). It provides a platform for African nations to showcase their rich cultural heritage and foster collaboration.
The significance of the Africa Day lies in its commemoration of African unity, liberation, and cultural diversity. His Excellency H.E. Ouadia Benabdellah, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Jakarta and Singapore, who also serves as the Dean of the African Ambassadors accredited in Jakarta, shed light on this significance.
"Africa Day serves as a day of reflection on Africa's history, achievements, challenges, and aspirations. It promotes a sense of pride in African heritage, encourages collaboration and cooperation among African nations and external partners, and raises awareness about the challenges and opportunities facing the continent," conveyed the ambassador.
A special highlight of the event was the presence of eight UIII African students who were invited by their respective embassies. Their attendance brought a fresh perspective and youthful energy, as testified by the Ambassador himself.
"The UIII African students who were invited to attend the celebrations certainly brought a breath of youth that further animated this event and had a positive impact on the overall atmosphere,” he expressed.
Ambassador Benabdellah elaborated that the students’ participation symbolized the promising future of Africa, inspiring others to become more engaged and involved in the continent's development. By fostering dialogue, collaboration, networking, and youth empowerment, the students could create a dynamic and inclusive atmosphere that further fosters Africa's cultural richness.
Eya Benlakhdhar, a Tunisian UIII student attending the event, expressed her excitement about immersing herself in the various African cultures. "The event attracted a diverse group of people from around the world, and it was particularly exciting to see the presence of ambassadors from African countries, including the Tunisian ambassador and officials from the Tunisian embassy in Jakarta", she said.
The buffet section enhanced Eya's experience, where each country showcased its traditional cuisine. She was thrilled to taste again Tunisian couscous (a traditional North African dish) which reminded her of home and brought back fond memories.
She admitted that the event provided her with an opportunity to engage with her country's culture, connect with fellow Tunisians, and strengthen her understanding of Tunisia's representation abroad.
Meanwhile, Kante Hamed, another UIII student from the Ivory Coast attending the event, described the atmosphere as vibrant and energetic, allowing him to have an opportunity to connect with the African community in Indonesia and savor the delicious cuisine representing various cultures.
“Engaging in meaningful conversations and interactions with individuals from East, South, and North Africa was a highlight, especially considering our West African background. The event not only fostered cultural exchange but also broadened [my] perspectives and deepened the understanding of Africa's diverse heritage,” Kante said.
The Africa Day celebration in Jakarta was a testament to the unity, cultural richness, and collaboration among African nations. It created an atmosphere filled with energy, enthusiasm, and the spirit of togetherness. By showcasing their traditional cuisine, engaging in conversations, and embracing diversity, the event served as a catalyst for strengthening ties, promoting African heritage, and inspiring future collaborations.
As Africa looks toward the future, events like these continue to play a vital role in celebrating African progress, addressing its challenges, and nurturing a shared vision of unity and prosperity. Africa Day in Jakarta was a powerful reminder of the continent's potential and the importance of celebrating its vibrant cultures and achievements.