Africans and Friends Gather to Celebrate Their Continent and Its Aspirations, Ideals

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Africans and Friends Gather to Celebrate Their Continent and Its Aspirations, Ideals

Korea may be remote from Africa, but last Friday African representatives gathered at the National Theater of Korea with 150 others to celebrate Africa Day.

The quest for equality, freedom, dignity, solidarity and societal prosperity led 32 independent African states to form the Organization of African Unity. Thirty eight years later and now 53 nations strong, the organization continues to celebrate its common cause and the pursuit of a common destiny for the continent on Africa Day. The organization has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"Africa Day symbolizes the unity of Africa," said Akin Soetan, senior counselor of Nigeria.

The embassy of Algeria sent invitations to diplomats from Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Libya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia. Invitations were also sent to diplomats of Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. When asked who organized the event, the embassy of Algeria said it was a joint effort by the 12 African nations, not including Morocco, that are represented in Korea.

"We take pride in sustaining our faith in each other and for maintaining and consolidating our bonds of unity and solidarity," said Salim Ahmed Salim, secretary general of the Organization of African Unity, in a statement addressed to his fellow Africans that was released to the press.

After an opening speech by Ahmed Boutache, the ambassador of Algeria, people dispersed to feast on African food. Several countries displayed traditional artwork and crafts at the theater building. Most of the diplomats were dressed in traditional costumes, adding color to the festivities.

Several Africans traveling through Korea joined the festivities, including members of the Association of Physicians of Nigeria, who were in Korea to attend the World Congress of Echocardiography.

Lee Seok-ho flew back from Capetown, South Africa, for the celebrations, since Africa Day happened to kick off the opening of a series of plays he had helped to bring to Korea. Africa Theater Festival, organized by the African Research Institute, touches upon the issues of slavery and racism and continues at the National Theater until June 11.

This was only the second Africa Day to be celebrated in Korea. Mr. Boutache was host to a smaller event last year at his residence.

by Joe Yong-hee

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