Bolaji Adeyanju and Noluyanda Mguye organisers of the first Laois Africa Culture Day on Saturday June 30
Laois has opened her arms to dozens of nationalities in recent years, including the African community, with one in ten Laois people now beiong non nationals.
Nw the whole Laois community is being invited to an afternoon of culture and fun in Portlaoise, and to get to know their new neighbours, at the first Laois Africa Culture Day.
The afternoon is being held on Saturday June 30 from 12 noon until 3pm, at Kavanagh's Courtyard on Main Street Portlaoise.
The public will be invited to sample African cuisine, to learn about traditions, costumes and jewellery, and enjoy music and dancers.
Bolaji Adeyanju from Mountmellick is organising the day, backed by a small team of helpers.
“We will feature local musicians and dancers who are from both Laois and Kildare. There will be African poetry readings too,” he told the Leinster Express.
He explained why he decided to hold the day.
“I have found that the level of integration here is low, and I thought this was the best way to encourage communities to get to know each other. This is not about the African community getting together, but really about introducing ourselves to locals,” he said.
Originally from Nigeria, Bolaji lived in Cork and then Dublin for many years before moving to Laois with his family three years ago. He, works in AIB Bank in Kildare.
The exciting display of African dancers and musicians who have performed in the Portlaoise St Patrick’s Day parade in recent years is also organised by him .
“There is such openness and friendliness in Laois, i would not swap Laois for Dublin now, I lived in Dublin for nine years and I did not know my neighbours,” Bolaji said.
“It is easy to talk about racism but I have not encountered any in Laois. People here are trying and willing to get to know us,” the organiser said.
Below: A Congalese Women's group performing in the Portlaoise St Patrick's Day parade