Organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Busan, Korea hosted the Africa Day celebration on Friday. The event includes, awarding the winners of ‘the Africa of my Dreams’ competition, music performances and fashion shows by famous African artists and designers.
It is organized every year in commemoration of the founding conference of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) on 25 May 1963.
The high point of this commemoration was the award ceremony for the prizewinners in the writing contest launched by the Bank last February The Africa of my Dreams.
From over 2,000 entries received, four finalists were chosen for the quality of their writing and their creativity. At the Bank’s invitation, all four came expressly to Busan to receive their awards from the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, in the main auditorium of the Bexco Convention Centre in Busan, which hosted the Meetings.
English and French being the official languages of the Pan-African Organization, each of the prizes awarded was in one of the two languages.
The two top prize winners were Zimbabwean, Geraldine Mukumbi, in the the English language category, and Togolese, Ayi Renaud Dossavi-Alipoeh, in the French.
The runners-up were both from French-speaking countries: although she was born and grew up in Abidjan, the Ivorian Ramatou Ly, who is doing a doctorate degree in the United States, preferred to write in English.
In the French language, it was Cédric Somé from Burkina Faso who came second; he now works in human resources in an international firm in Senegal. “It is very rare for young Africans to be given the opportunity to express themselves”, he said, recalling his surprise on learning that his writing had been chosen. “And even when they are, no one pays much attention.”
A happy coincidence, the first and second prizes reflect perfect equality, both going to a woman and a man. Geraldine Mukumbi was keen to pay tribute to “the forthright women who brought her up” and thus inspired in her love of stories.
Winners who embody diverse, talented and mobile Africa
While Cédric Somé and Geraldine Mukumbi have a background in the humanities – one has a degree in literature and philosophy and specialized in human resources management; the other studied English literature and African studies –; the other two prizewinners have a more scientific profile: Ramatou Ly is studying for a doctorate in one of the most advanced fields, material science and engineering; Ayi Renaud Dossavi-Alipoeh has a degree in biology but has devoted herself to writing, with a blog and five published works to her credit.
Another sign of this Africa which is pushing the boundaries is embodied in the number of young people in the continent who are mobile and open to the world. Géraldine Mukumbi now teaches in Bratislava, Slovenia. Born in Abidjan, Ramatou Ly earned a master’s degree in France before going on to study for a doctorate in Texas. After studying in Burkina Faso, Cédric Somé continued his studies in Morocco and then in Senegal – where he now lives.
Shaping the Africa of tomorrow
“My main aim in taking part in the contest was to become an advocate for this African youth which believes in the potential of Africans and science and technology in Africa”, said Cédric Somé. Ramatou Ly added: “I wanted to use my pen to tell the Bank that young Africans like us are aware of the precarious situation of the continent and ready to do our bit.” That was precisely the aim of the African Development Bank in organizing the contest: to give a voice to young Africans and let them show off their talent and creativity, underlining that they are the future of the continent and thus have a role to play in shaping the Africa of tomorrow.
“Our finalists embody, in many ways, the creative energy and talent of millions of young Africans who deserve to be given the chance to achieve their full potential”, declared Victor Oladokun, Director of Communication at the African Development Bank and Master of Ceremonies at the prizegiving. At the Bank, we are extremely proud of the finalists in the “Africa of my Dreams” contest and we wish them every possible success in their future careers.
The ceremony for the presentation of prizes and gifts (portable computers and tablets) was followed by a fashion parade, the colours of Africa, orchestrated by the celebrated African designers and stylists, Pathé’O and Alphadi. This year’s Africa Day ended in music with a concert by the Cameroon singer and bass-player Richard Bona, a lively celebration of the last day of the Bank’s 2018 Annual Meetings.