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The annual Africa Day party was held at the Ambassador of Nigeria’s residence on Tuesday evening, May 31st, with over two dozen embassies joining in a joint celebration of African cultural heritage, economic achievements and development, and cooperation.

The embassies and representatives of Angola, Cameroon, Congo DRC, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Equatorial, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zambia hosted the joint celebration. Each country had a booth set up, featuring traditional food dishes for guests to sample.

The evening opened with the national anthems of Israel and the African Union. H.E. Mr. Jean-Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, Ambassador of Cameroon and Dean of the African Ambassadors in Israel, then welcomed the guests on behalf of the African Group of Ambassadors in Israel. The ambassador noted that this year’s theme for the African Union is “Strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent: Strengthening agro-food systems, health and social protection systems for the acceleration of human, social and economic capital development.” The ambassador also noted the forward-thinking perspective of the AU’s Agenda 2063, crafted to maximize the potential of the population on the continent, and in particular with well-nourished women and children.

Continuing on the theme, the ambassador pointed out the potential for growth that Africa presents, with the largest per capita youth demographic in the world, and arable land that is still underutilized as a source of continental and global food production. 


Turning to the connection with Israel, and the recent challenges of Covid-19, the ambassador noted with appreciation the “Brothers in Arms” campaign which ensured the rapid vaccination of diplomatic staff in Israel and their families, as well as the contribution of vaccines for the African football competition in Cameroon. Mentioning the highly successful Mashav program, as well as the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Bennett to Egypt in March 2022, by H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of the DRC to Israel, the current visit of the minister of foreign affairs of Togo to Israel, and other high level visits between Israel and the African nations, the ambassador saw signs of the strong relationship between Israel and African countries, and motivation to increase cooperation. 

The minister concluded by calling for a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in all tragedies, including the recent spate of violence in Israel. He then called up Minister in the Department of Finance, H.E. Mr. Hamad Amar, to deliver remarks on behalf of the state of Israel.

Minister Hamad Amar spoke on behalf of the state of Israel. Minister Amar talked about the strong and growing ties between Israel and the African nations, the pinnacle of which was Israel’s acceptance last summer as an observer state in the African Union. The minister noted how the Mashav infrastructure for Israel-African cooperation was utilized to provide vaccines and other essential support during Covid 19. The minister called for increased partnership and diplomacy going forward.

H.E. Professor Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Togo, as the guest of honor, spoke next. The minister talked about the strong potential that Africa represents to the world, of youth and growth. Focusing on the relationship with Israel, the minister noted that Israeli technological ingenuity was particularly suited for investment investing in African natural resources and human capital. The minister pointed out that 42 of the 54 AU member states already have representation in Israel, a further sign of the strong multilateral ties at play. Explaining that cooperation and peace were seen as priorities throughout Africa, the minister struck an optimistic note about the future of Africa-Israel ties. 

Minister Dussey then surprised the audience, by calling on members to sing the traditional “Shema Yisrael” prayer, before calling up Togolege-Israeli pop star Stephane Legar to the stage. Legar told the audience how he had grown up in the ideals of Africa-Israel partnership, and was honored to be joining the celebration.

After the speeches, a toast was raised to the good health of African and Israeli leaders, and growing cooperation between the respective countries. A giant cake in the shape of the African Union logo was cut. The guests continued to enjoy the diverse tastes of Africa, while musicians from different countries took the stage to entertain the audience.

Among the distinguished guests in attendance were H.E. Professor Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Togo; Minister Hamad Amar of the Finance Ministry of Israel; H.E. Ambassador Gil Haskel, Chief of State Protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ambassador Iddo Moed, Head of the Burea for African Affairs at the MFA; David Freeman, Representative of the World Center of Bahai Faith in Jerusalem; Sheikh Muhammad Sharif Odeh, head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Israel; Israeli-Togolese singer Stephane Legar; Ezi Rapaport, Founder and CEO of Empower Africa, and graphic designer Yael Krieger, as well as foreign diplomats in Israel, expats of the African member states, and Israelis with ties to the continent.

On the same day as the celebration in Israel, the “Israel in Africa” conference took place in Paris, including a recorded message from Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in which he expressed that "Israel is back in Africa". Israel's relations with Africa have strengthened over the last few years with new diplomatic ties forming, as highlighted by achievement of observer status at the AU, as well as the recent appointment of an Israeli Ambassador to Chad for the first time in half a century.

Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the member nations of the African Union, and all of the embassies in Israel, on Africa Day 2022.

Steven Aiello
Photos credit: Myriam Dahan