A virtual art exhibition, an exploration of Africa’s cutting-edge art throuhg the work of artists from the whole continent: this is the initiative organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to celebrate Africa Day. The celebration marks the anniversary of the establishment, on 25 May 1963, in Addis Ababa, of the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union.

africa day giornata dell'africa

Following tradition, this year again the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to celebrate Africa Day and the strong historical, cultural and economic bonds between Italy and African countries. Due to the pandemic, the Foreign Ministry created a virtual exhibition aimed at showing to the general public some of the main works of art from Africa displayed both in international museums and in Italy.

The virtual exhibition was set up in collaboration with CMS Cultura and under the supervision of Dr. Micol Forti, Director of the Vatican Museums’ Collection of Contemporary Art. The exhibition is intended to give voice to the direct protagonists of the extraordinary cultural universe of the African continent, entering the artists’ studios, giving us a closer insight into their vision of art and life, going beyond the institutional academic and museum-based approach. Together with the artists’ voices, visitors to the exhibition will be able to admire some of their main creations – over 40 pieces of art.

Thirteen artists took part in this celebratory project, coming from very different regions of the African continent: Fatou Kande Senghor, Soly Cissé and Seni Camara are from Senegal, Dawit Abebe from Ethiopia, Troy Makaza from Zimbabwe, Malala Andrialavidrazana from Madagascar, El Anatsui from Ghana, Ifeoma U. Anyaeji and Peju Alatise from Nigeria, Ghizlane Sahli from Morocco, Gonçalo Mabunda from Mozambique, Barthélémy Toguo from Cameroon, and Mathilde Moreau from Ivory Coast. These artists represent different modes of expression but are in some way connected to the topics that will be addressed at this year’s G20 meetings, of which Italy holds the presidency: environmental sustainability, peaceful conflict resolution, migration, respect for women, harmony and balance in community living.

Fidele Sambassi Khakessa
Ambassador Sambassi Khakessa with Italian President Mattarella

This exhibition organized to celebrate Africa Day was inaugurated during an event sponsored by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and streamed on the Ministry’s website on May 25.

Minister Luigi Di Maio opened the ceremony, and his intervention was followed by a speech by Fidèle Sambassi Khakessa, the Ambassador to Rome of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the country holding the presidency of the African Union in 2021. Deputy Minister Marina Sereni and representatives of international organisations specialising in the conservation of the archaeological heritage – the Director General of ICCROM, Webber Ndoro, and the President of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), Maurizio di Stefano – closed the meeting with their speeches.

The celebration of Africa Day is part of a full agenda of events of considerable importance for Italy’s relations with the continent, which will culminate in the “Meetings with Africa”, that will be held in october in the framework of the Italian presidency of the G20. Finally, by celebrating Africa Day, the Foreign Ministry also wanted to commemorate Ambassador Luca Attanasio, member of the Carabinieri corps Vittorio Iacovacci, and driver Mustapha Milambo, who were killed on February 22, 2021 in a tragic attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo.