Africa Day 2014
"The role of youth in promoting peace"
May 24, 2014, Farel Hall, Biel, Switzerland
For the 4th consecutive year, the Day of Africa has emerged after 11 months of preparations of the organizing committee representing nine associations. It was decided to carry out an event under the leadership of young people to make them feel involved in the future of their home and host countries. The goals of the day were encouraging each other to develop talents and character, contribute to the harmonious coexistence between generations and between migrants and immigrants and establish a common culture centered on the heart rather than dissension stemming from various beliefs and opinions.
The afternoon program began with the presentation of Swiss Minors prepared by Kofi Owoussi from Togo and Adu Adjei from Ghana and continued with an explanation and a film about human rights for youth by Jerry Abrahamse from South Africa.
Then the WAIT team presented the skit on AIDS, showing the effects of the virus on the body and the effects of the treatment on life. In preparation for Africa Day, Nathalie Komagata, with the support of the American Cathlene Bell-Dumas, longtime WAIT trainer, taught and showed the elements of the program since November to young people from different backgrounds and associations. She also made one of two songs, "Wait!" and remodeled the dance that followed the sketch.
This presentation was a dress rehearsal for the evening program and the opportunity to inspire other young people to learn the roles. Some tried a few steps on stage. Félicienne Villoz, sex therapist of AIDS Help Berne then asked the youth about their choice of waiting in order to develop character and talents and their openness toward other options common in our society. The youth confirmed that they had received the values of their parents and expressed their belief that these were the best means of prevention.
After a short break, the program resumed at 17h with rhythms of Tobias Asuming, of Ghanaian father and Swiss mother, a student at the High School of Art in Berne, accompanied by Emanuel Wasen. Spontaneously, children gathered on stage and danced.
The Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation, Chantal Chételat Komagata, surrounded by these children, presented the first keynote address, explaining the reason of this event. UPF is an NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC, and as such it contributes to the establishment of peace in the world in commemorating some international days declared by the UN. In particular, she is motivated by the rich Switzerland-Africa encounter that gradually removes the barriers, benefits to the mutual development and helps build a culture of heart among all. She also emphasized the need to involve youth with their imaginative and creative potential for the future society and thanked all representatives of the organizing committee who had invested tirelessly all these months.
Koffi Owoussi, co-chairman of the committee integration Biel summarized the measures taken by the city and encouraged Africans to invest for the good of their community. Finally Jemmely Josiane, who was just newly elected to the Grand Council of Neuchâtel, spoke about the many activities undertaken for a successful integration of both sides. Jean Scheiben, Chief Cantonal Police Biel talked about the development potential of Africa through Africans here.
After the skit, song, dance of the WAIT team, Noëmie Komagata, a medical student at the University of Berne and Benoît Essama specializing in hospitality and native of Cameroon presented "Promoting prevention." They explained that prevention against addictions, destructive behaviors and harmful products is linked to the development of heart and character. “The best way to overcome the temptations with their negative consequences is to engage in constructive passions. The resulting maturity guarantees sustainable love and health.”
After being launched into the reflection about prevention, the public then concentrated in the debate "How can youth create a culture of bridges between people of different backgrounds?" moderated by Celeste Ugochukwu, Nigeria, Chairman of the African Diaspora in Switzerland and member of the Federal Commission against Racism. Panelists Gerry Abrahamse, Chaima Bessouda, Emanuel Wasem and Asuming Tobias answered his questions in 3 different languages. Among the many responses, the following views were expressed: the relationship between humans depend greatly on the family situation and education through which the ability not only to accept but also to appreciate others is developed; bridges can be built by overcoming the barriers in oneself. The only lady, coming from Tunisia, emphasized the need to be attentive as one of the expressions of love, too little practiced, as the key to establishing strong bonds between people from different backgrounds. The public also expressed their opinions and asked questions.
The debate gave way to the presentation of various projects. Mamadou Diop of Senegal, President of Presence Africaine, spoke of the need to support the “Cuisine du Coeur” which involves 10 different communities. Mdirema from Togo and Tesfalem from Eritrea, representatives of the project “Multicolore” of AIDS Help Berne, spoke about the prevention against AIDS. They said that abstinence before and fidelity within marriage indeed remain the best means but encouraged, if these behaviors were not possible, to use other alternatives to avoid contamination. José Bosekota Elonga, DRC, presented the Elonga Foundation that heops youth without means in a deprived area of the country. Finally, Asser Jambo spoke about his new African Takeout "Ma Ailé" in the old town, which opened in April with the support of his mother.
Meals made by five communities, Togo, DRC, Cameroon, Senegal and Eritrea gave a hundred attendees the opportunity to feed their body with all kinds of perfumes and tastes.
During the meal, various presentations followed on stage. Among others the youth African choir of Moutier, led by Carlton, the Biel choir led by Martha Gsteiger and the famous DRC singer Shiga.
Finally, let’s mention other actors who contributed to the success of the day like Johnson Belangenyi, president of Swiss Exile, who led the program with enthusiasm, spreading the joy to the public. Everything was done in French and German, with some interventions in English. The almost simultaneous translation allowed non-bilingual people to follow the thread. Nearly 200 people, of various generations and backgrounds, attended this memorable cultural event. The event was filmed and photographed by Michel Reymond and is available at: http://www.scoop.it/journeeafriquesuisse
Chantal Chételat Komagata, Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation (www.upf.org), Switzerland, 06.01.2014
Organizations represented in the CO:
Universal Peace Federation, Multimondo, Swiss Minors, Council of the African Diaspora in Switzerland, Youth for Human Rights, AIDS Help Berne, ACAS, Presence Africaine, Elonga Foundation
Financial support: Canton of Berne, UPF