African Unity Day, also known as Africa Day, is celebrated annually on 25th May.
As part of the Beyond Skin Blueprint PeaceIV programme a series of digital productions will be released on Africa Day complimented by activities with communities on location launching a four-month African Caribbean Culture Awareness project.
Blueprint is a comprehensive ethnic minority cultural diversity programme across the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area, supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
Assisting Beyond Skin to deliver the programme are the Northern Ireland based organizations JoinHer Network, I’Assist and African & Caribbean Support Organisation NI (ACSONI). Support will also come from Beyond Skin international partners OpenNet40 Zambia and Smart Talk Café Kenya.
The programme will set out to give people living in Newry, Mourne & Down area access and shared experience opportunities to learn about African & Caribbean cultures and explore intercultural ways of addressing shared social issues – mental health, climate change, racism and questions are equity.
The African Caribbean Culture Awareness project will be a series of participatory virtual and on location workshops and events complimented by film productions.
Cllr Laura Devlin Chairperson of Newry Mourne & Down District Council has welcomed this project saying;
“The PEACE IV Ethnic Minority and Cultural Diversity Programme has brought many exciting and inclusive opportunities direct to our local resident. Beyond Skin the facilitator for this new African Caribbean Project have been innovative in taking forward projects under this programme that bring about meaningful dialogue and access to opportunities where people from different cultural backgrounds can learn more about each other, build relationships and work through the challenges together. Using the arts to nurture these conversations is central to these projects and I am delighted to see Beyond Skin have also brought on board additional expertise and skills from other organisations representing African Caribbean communities.”
One of the short films to be released on Africa Day is “Roots (in the context of hair growth & care) An Afro-Caribbean Hair Conversation.”
Darren Ferguson from Beyond Skin said
“For those of us not from African or Caribbean communities we have little understanding about the diversity, traditions and challenges of people of African descent. Even on the subject of ‘hair’ - the cultural significance, heritage, social pressures and sensitivities. The ‘Roots’ film (in the context of hair growth & care) is a perfect example of what we seek to do through this project – provide opportunities for people to learn and share.
Founder of JoinHer Network Lori Gatsi-Barnett said “Being African or Caribbean or of African Descent just adds to how diverse we all are. As our community continues to reflect the “variety in diversity” Let’s be open to sharing, learning & growing together.”
The trailer of the film "Ghana to Ardglass" has also been released.
A specific webpage documenting the project and hosting film productions will be set up on the Beyond Skin website.