Meet one of our Africa Day 2016 Champions, Salome Mbugua!
Salome Mbugua is a native of Kenya and has lived in Ireland since 1994. She is the founder, former CEO and currently the Honorary President of AkiDwA – the African and migrant Women’s Network Ireland. She has over 20 years’ experience of working with under-represented groups, in particular women, children and young people, in Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ireland. Her background is in social work, international development and philosophy. Salome is a strong advocate and ambassador of Africans and the African continent and was awarded an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-UN) fellowship in 2015. She currently works with Wezesha, the African diaspora led development organisation she co-founded in 2010. The organisation works with African women and children that are affected or are likely to be affected by conflict, war, violence and poverty. Her work is informed by a Master’s degree in Equality Studies from UCD and Salome is currently undertaking doctorate research at Trinity College Dublin. Her research focuses on participation of women in peace-building in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We caught up with Salome recently and asked her a few questions about herself and what she’s most looking forward to about Africa Day. Read the interview below:
I’m originally from Kenya but I’ve been living in Ireland for the last 21 years. My background is in social work and community development. Currently, I work with Wezesha which works to support and to promote human rights for women and children in Africa. Previously, I worked with AkiDwA – the migrant women’s network in Ireland. I founded AkiDwA here in Ireland in 2001.
I think it’s very important to celebrate Africa Day here in Ireland to acknowledge that, like Ireland, the African continent has its own strength and opportunities. I think it is only in Ireland that Africa Day is celebrated in this way. In fact, last year we had people coming over from the UK to celebrate with us here, and I’ve even had friends from France and Belgium asking when Africa Day is being celebrated so that they could come over to Ireland especially for it! …It is also very important to celebrate Africa Day in Ireland to highlight the contributions being made by Ireland to Africa, but also to highlight the challenges that are still faced by the continent of Africa.
Africa Day in Farmleigh is always a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and has a very special celebratory atmosphere. For many people in Ireland, the Africa Day festival is a special day in their calendar and they count down until the day when they get to celebrate African culture, the great sense of humour of the people, sample the food, take part in the dancing and the many other elements included at the event. I think the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has done a great job putting this all together, and As far as I’m aware, this is the only event of its kind in Europe.