Celebrating Africa!

Published on 26 May 2024

25th May marks the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity, now known as the African Union.

While eavesdropping on conversations at the Opening Ceremony to collect stories, I overheard Chris saying that it’s wonderful that we celebrate the people from around the world who are present at ASSITEJ festivals but that there is always a palpable absence of our friends and colleagues who wanted to, but cannot, attend – whether because of funding, immigration or other logistical challenges. And so, while I was enjoying the Africa Day celebrations at Casa de Africa, a beautiful museum of African culture and history with a little school for children, I felt the absence of my friend and colleague, Jerry Adesewo from Nigeria. So, I picked up the phone and called him up as soon as I had stable internet. For Jerry, Africa Day is “an opportunity to celebrate his Africanness”. I could have seen my dear friend perform an adaptation of the poem “Africa” by David Leon Mandessi Diop but all I have today is a screenshot of our video call from yesterday and a quote that resonates most with him from the poem “Africa”,

“Africa, my Africa

Africa of proud warriors in ancestral Savannahs.”

He and our friends from the continent also appeal to “all necessary institutions in Africa, including respective African governments, embassies of African nations abroad, the African Union and its regional components, to take decisive action” to make the vision of a united Africa a reality with this year being an important one as it marks the end of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent under the theme “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development. An example of which we saw yesterday at Casa de Africa in Havana, Cuba. Delegates from the continent, represented by Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe with talks, documentaries, a fashion show of some of the traditional attire, dance, music and of course, performances for young audiences throughout the festival.

Those present on the ground can catch the shows of Bounced by Magnet Theatre from South Africa.

A big thanks to the African delegation for a day full of Africa.

Nigeria: Jerry Adesewo (who is here in spirit and on WhatsApp), Pamela Udoka

Rwanda: Carole Karemera

Senegal: Mamby Mawine

South Africa Yvette Hardie, Lalu Mokuku, Lindiwe Msiza

Zambia: Bernard Mutambwa

Zimbabwe: Gertrude Pfumayaramba, Matesu Dube


Nishna Mehta is an MA in Theatre for Young Audiences. She has been working with and for children and young people from various backgrounds and abilities in India, Singapore, England, Ireland and Germany since 2012.

Currently, she is the Lead Researcher for ASSITEJ International’s Global Advocacy Focused Research Project with a focus on Diversity in Leadership in Theatre for Young Audiences, the Chairperson of the International Inclusive Arts Network and acting Secretary of ASSITEJ India.

She wishes to share the magic and joy of theatre with young people across age groups and backgrounds throughout the world and aims to bring her local and international experiences together in order to find a ‘glocal’ identity.