Laois Africa day volunteers march in the Portlaoise St Patrick's Day parade
The African community in Laois is offering a hand of friendship to locals to celebrate the second annual Laois Africa Day together.
The first day held in 2018 was in Kavanagh's Courtyard in Portlaoise.
The public enjoyed African cuisine, learned about traditions, costumes, hair braiding, jewellery, music and dancing, while traditional Irish music by Portlaoise Comhaltas added to the cultural blend.
Below: Eaesar and Rihanna Adeyanju with Tolu Olotu at the 2018 Africa Day celebrations in Kavanagh's, Portlaoise. Pic: Alf Harvey.
It was such a well attended success that it has expanded this year to fill Portlaoise Parish Centre carpark, to take place on the Saturday of the June bank holiday weekend, a week after International Africa Day.
Arts performers are coming from Dublin and Cork, representing many nationalities that now call Ireland home.
They include Royal Vessels Gospel Choir, Deejay Matt, and dancer choreographer Adunni Alaso-oke.
This year there will again be live performances, free food tasting, music, drama, poetry, dancers, arts and crafts, showcasing of African clothes, kids hair braiding and face painting. There will be prizes for best African dress and best performance. There will also be a fitness area for children.
The chief executive of Laois County Council John Mulholland is a special guest.
African films will also be shown in the Dunamaise Theatre during the week. Members of the Laois African Support Group will also visit schools to talk to children about Africa.
Bolaji Adeyanju from Mountmellick is chairperson of the Laois African Support Group who are organising the festival.
“This is about introducing Africa to our neighbours, to ensure better integration, it's about positivity,” he said, thanking the parish centre and Dunamaise Arts Centre for support.
Laois Africa Day will be held on Saturday June 1, on the Bank Holiday weekend from 12 noon to 5pm. To volunteer or enquire, call Bolaji on 087 3880688.
The event is supported by Irish Aid and Laois Partnership Company, Laois County Council, the EU's Asylum, Migration and Integration fund, as well as local businesses.
Below: Xavier, Maisy, Kayla and Sola at the 2018 Africa Day celebrations in Kavanagh's, Portlaoise. Picture: Alf Harvey.