SAFOD Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, was among the invited delegates at this year’s Africa Day Celebrations at the Artscape Theatre in Western Cape, South Africa, on 25 May 2015.
Celebrated under the theme “African journeys of excellence”, a series of performances characterized the event which was graced by the Guest of Honour, Premier Helen Zille. The theme highlighted innovative African disability research findings, promote sustainable and forward-looking African trade routes, mutual understanding through tourism and investing in each other’s economies.
Africa Day celebrates the day when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU), was formed in 1963. It acknowledges the progress that Africans have made, while reflecting upon the common challenges we face in a global environment.
In her address, Premier Helen Zille said the Africa Day celebrations had come to mean more than just an anniversary of the African Union (AU).
“The Western Cape’s celebration of Africa day 2015 is in attempt at a Provincial level to encourage engagement and collaboration by African experts at a people-to-people and institution to institution level,” she said.
Dignitaries from the African Network for Evidence to Action on Disability (AfriNEAD) were in attendance. SAFOD’s Chiwaula was among the representatives of the AfriNEAD where he currently serves as one of its core group team members. He spoke during the event about some of the key resolutions and recommendations that have had been agreed in a series of the AfriNEAD events that had so far taken place.
“Since the first AfriNEAD gathering took place in 2007 here in Cape Town, quite a lot has happened in the field of research that has benefited SAFOD and other stakeholders in various ways,” he said.
He said one of the resolutions that have been reached so far include the need for AfriNEAD and other similar research institutions to move beyond the theoretical level of research in Africa. He noted that research was generally still largely impairment-focused, hence there was need to shift to more action-focused research to realize the rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa.
“Research and documentation should focus on African perspectives on disability (African model) using indigenous knowledge,” Chiwaula said.
He also outlined more recommendations such as strengthened partnerships among different players; strengthening of web-based research tools; creation of national research databases; involvement of Persons with Disabilities as active participants in disability mainstreaming efforts; and evidence-based advocacy and lobbying on wide-ranging issues; just to mention a few.
Other dignitaries present at the event included the former Minister of Disability and Elderly Affairs from Malawi, Ms. Rachel Kachaje (Currently the Chairperson Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA) and Current Chairperson for SAFOD Revival Team); Minister of Finance, Dr. Ivan Meyer; Minister of Economic Opportunities, Mr. Alan Winde; Director Centre for Social Research University of Malawi; Chancellor College in Malawi, Dr. Alister Munthali; CEO: Africa Disability Alliance (ADA), Mr. Kudakwashe Dube; and Head of the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies at Stellenbosch University, Dr. Gubela Mji, who is also Chairperson of AfriNEAD.