African Kiwis get a chance to celebrate

May 31, 2024

African Kiwis get a chance to celebrate

Silo Park comes alive with Africa Day, a celebration of African culture. Photo: Vivek Panchal

Silo Park played host to the annual Africa Day celebration, which was held on the 25th of May.

The single-day event consisted of various stalls selling food, clothing, artwork and various music and dance performances from different African nations.

The event was organised by ACOFI (African Communities Forum Inc.) to unite the African people here in New Zealand said Abby Fumbilwa, an executive member at ACOFI.

“The goals of ACOFI is to make the African voices in Aotearoa heard and to vouch and support whatever our community needs.”

Abby Fumbilwa was born in New Zealand, but her parents had moved here from Zambia in 2001.

As an African Kiwi, she struggled with finding her identity, however, over time she learnt to embrace both her African and Kiwi roots.

This is the third consecutive year that Silo Park has hosted Africa Day, and it has been amazing to see how big the event has gotten in just three years.

“It’s been happening for years in smaller community halls, ” says Abby.

“Africa Day is going to be just a little snapshot of how we enjoy in Africa, so having a day that we can feel at home. It's so amazing for us. It's so important to be able to connect to our roots as much as we love Aotearoa.” said Abby Fumbilwa. Photo: Vivek Panchal

“Africa Day is going to be just a little snapshot of how we enjoy in Africa, so having a day that we can feel at home. It's so amazing for us. It's so important to be able to connect to our roots as much as we love Aotearoa.” said Abby Fumbilwa. Photo: Vivek Panchal

“We are so far from home and this an opportunity for all of us to come together  and let people know that there is a community, and you can get little slice, and it’s varied but it’s a little slice of warmth that we miss being so far away from home. And for some of the young ones who have not probably never been back home to the motherland or don’t get a chance to go as often they would like, this is the only opportunity to get to see people who represent cultures that are either theirs or close-ish.” Photo: Vivek Panchal “We are so far from home and this an opportunity for all of us to come together and let people know that there is a community, and you can get little slice, and it’s varied but it’s a little slice of warmth that we miss being so far away from home. And for some of the young ones who have not probably never been back home to the motherland or don’t get a chance to go as often they would like, this is the only opportunity to get to see people who represent cultures that are either theirs or close-ish.” Photo: Vivek Panchal

Ch! Nonso, a musician who performed at the festival, said the event also celebrates various African artists who get a platform to showcase their talent and art.

“Celebrations like this make people validated in their experience of being African, so it does mean a lot to me.” said Ch! Nonso.

Ch! Moved to New Zealand in 2015 from Nigeria and has been making music since 2016, and his genre of music, Afro Soul is inspired by elements of jazz, soul music and afrobeat.

Visual artist Mwewa Kasongo, who moved to New Zealand from Zambia in 2006 had a stall showcasing her artwork.

Her parents moved here in 2005 for better opportunities when her mother got an offer to work as a nurse.

Her artwork is inspired from her home in Zambia, however, she hopes to explore her New Zealand upbringing.

“I would love to show my appreciation through working with another Māori artist.” said Mwewa.

Diodi Joseph, the founder and artistic director of BCA (Black Creatives Aotearoa) said, the BCA is a community arts collective that is dedicated to supporting the creative aspirations of African and Black diaspora brethren here in New Zealand.

“For me personally, as a member of the Caribbean, a diaspora who's been raised in New Zealand, and it's really important for us to honour our motherland and feel a really strong connection today.

“I don't think it matters whether you were born in the UK or the US or the Caribbean or in the heartland. It's a chance for us to really be connecting our roots and really celebrating unity consciousness.”

Mazin Ibrahim moved to New Zealand ten years ago from North Sudan in search of better job and education prospects.

Africa Day represents the presence of his community and proud Africans wearing their colours said Mazin.

“It just it just reminds you that we're all out there.

“It's just very, very much separated by suburban, by distance.

“And so, it's really good to come. And I usually see people that I don't see for a whole year, and on Africa Day when we catch up.

“ It’s just like I've seen them just like yesterday, you know, so it's, it's beautiful.”

For many like Abby, Ch! And others, events like Africa Day help members of the community celebrate their heritage and identity.

"Honestly, I feel so honoured to be a part of this. I feel like it really backs my mission of wanting to create more African art and just being able to be given this opportunity to showcase, to simply even just showcase and show people what Africans and Zambians are made of. And it’s just amazing honestly. And I just like how diverse the crowd is as well. It’s so inspiring that people want to actually collect African art as well.” said Mwewa. Photo: Vivek Panchal "Honestly, I feel so honoured to be a part of this. I feel like it really backs my mission of wanting to create more African art and just being able to be given this opportunity to showcase, to simply even just showcase and show people what Africans and Zambians are made of. And it’s just amazing honestly. And I just like how diverse the crowd is as well. It’s so inspiring that people want to actually collect African art as well.” said Mwewa. Photo: Vivek Panchal

“I said I would love to have a space that I can exhibit my photography and I would love to have a space where I can take people's portraits. Because it's so wonderful for me to get to see people seeing themselves as they would like to be seen, and I think that can be so often denied ton us as people of colour, especially as black folks. So it’s been really gratifying”. said Sam, a photographer about his experience working with BCA.. Photo: Vivek Panchal “I said I would love to have a space that I can exhibit my photography and I would love to have a space where I can take people's portraits. Because it's so wonderful for me to get to see people seeing themselves as they would like to be seen, and I think that can be so often denied ton us as people of colour, especially as black folks. So it’s been really gratifying”. said Sam, a photographer about his experience working with BCA.. Photo: Vivek Panchal

“I said I would love to have a space that I can exhibit my photography and I would love to have a space where I can take people's portraits. Because it's so wonderful for me to get to see people seeing themselves as they would like to be seen, and I think that can be so often denied ton us as people of colour, especially as black folks. So it’s been really gratifying”. said Sam, a photographer about his experience working with BCA.. Photo: Vivek Panchal Mazin Ibrahim, who was running the "corny but good stall" at the event who has been coming for the last four year noticed the change over the years. “Every year it’s usually only Africans and few, you know, people from other ethnicities. But now it’s becoming apparent that there is a bigger interest and bigger curiosity for Africa Day.” Photo: Vivek Panchal

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