On May 27, in the City Garden in front of the National Theatre "Ivan Vazov" there was a colourful and joyful event.

Once again, Africa Day was celebrated in the capital. This happened thanks to the efforts of the Dean of the Group of African Ambassadors accredited in Bulgaria - H. E. Ms. Zakia El Midaoui, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Heads of the Diplomatic Missions of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, South Africa and the Honorary Consuls representing Ethiopia, Mauritius and Seychelles. The event was attended by the Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria Ms. Iliana Iotova, Ms. Maria Gabriel, who just a few days before the event resigned from her position as European Commissioner to receive a mandate from the Bulgarian President to form a government, senior government officials, Bulgarian MEPs, representatives of local authorities, the diplomatic corps, NGOs, the African diaspora, many citizens and guests of Sofia.

The opening ceremony of the Africa Day was marked by the speeches of the Vice President Ms. Iliana Iotova and H. E. Ms. Zakia El Midaoui.

E. Ms. Zakia El Midaoui, who spoke on behalf of the Group, said that "the International Day of Africa, coinciding with the date of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa on 25 May 1963, like all major holidays, is a moment of joy and pride, but also an event to promote solidarity, unity and cooperation among African countries." She emphasised the fact that "60 years ago, Africa laid the foundations of its unity by creating a common organisation, the OAU, which became the African Union in 2002. Sixty years after this founding act, Africa has begun its political unity and great economic, social and cultural progress".

Noting that "the African continent has significant economic potential and a rich, young and dynamic human capital", she did not fail to point out that "Africa is also a continent rich in cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity. It is a place where ancient traditions coexist with modern influences. African peoples have a rich history dating back thousands of years. Over the years, they have experienced significant challenges and obstacles but have managed to preserve their culture and heritage," she said.

She added that "World Africa Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of African countries and the progress they have made so far in economic and social development."

Zakia El Midaoui also pointed out that "Africa is showing a dynamism that nothing can stop; it has extraordinary potential, whether in terms of the energy of its many young people or the opportunities offered by free trade," noting that "the African Union has designated 2023 as the year of the African Continental Free Trade Area and that, once the agreement is fully implemented, the world's largest single market could lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2035. thereby helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals".

On behalf of all the African Ambassadors accredited in Bulgaria and the Honorary Consuls of African countries, the Ambassador took the opportunity to thank the Bulgarian authorities for their invaluable assistance in organising this event, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Municipality of Sofia, as well as all those who directly and indirectly contributed to the success of the celebrations. She also thanked all those who honoured this moment of celebration and African brotherhood with their presence.

In her opening remarks, the Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mrs Iliana Iotova, stressed the need to get rid of the unhealthy attitude of continuing to see Africa as a continent torn by conflicts and in need of humanitarian aid. Africa, she said, "is an opportunity and can bring a lot to all of us".

"Africa is a continent made up of many countries with diverse, ancient and rich cultures. It has something to offer us all. It is the youngest continent and young people there should have more opportunities, not live in military conflict and poverty. That is why the European Union, and we as part of it, must do everything we can to make these countries our natural partners. Let us help these young people to develop, both in terms of education and investment, and support the development of the economy as a whole. This is the way of the future," she added.

She concluded by pointing out that "in this way, we will no longer be talking about waves of emigration and the export of poverty. We will also forget the export of crime. This is our responsibility and our task", she said.

The celebration of Africa Day took the form of a lively festival with a varied musical programme and a bazaar featuring traditional handicrafts, national clothing, cosmetics, handmade accessories and more, as well as food, drinks and dishes reflecting the diversity of African taste. All proceeds from the sales will go to charity.

The celebration achieved its goal - to raise awareness among the people of Bulgaria about the diversity and richness of African culture, thus contributing to the rapprochement of African and Bulgarian society.

The day was enriched by a diverse cultural program, with Bulgarian artists and those from the African diaspora in Bulgaria alternating on stage.

It is worth noting that the Bulgarian media widely covered the celebration of Africa Day.

The photos are provided by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Bulgaria.