Published Thursday 25 May 2023

Today (25 May) transports us to the vibrant African continent for Africa Day celebrations!

Africa Day is celebrated across various countries around the world and is about Peace, Unity and Love. It is an occasion for people to come together and celebrate cultural diversity, with this year’s theme being, ‘Opportunities in Challenging Times.’

Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley have staff, and more than 15 percent of Wellington’s regional population, representing several African countries. This includes and is not limited to Somalia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Zambia, Egypt, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Hutt Hospital midwife Jessy Salumayi is originally from Solwezi, Zambia. She has been in Aotearoa for 22 years and is also the vice-president of the African Communities Council of Wellington (ACCW). Jessy shared her journey with health and culture with us.

What is your role? And what do you enjoy about it?

“I am currently a theatre midwife at Hutt Hospital and have been a midwife for the past 13 years. I love a lot of things about my role but seeing a baby come into the new world every day is really exciting. Being there and helping families welcome their babies into the world and giving them guidance brings me joy.”

How have you found mixing your culture with NZ everyday life?

“I have found mixing my Zambian/African culture here in New Zealand to be a fantastic experience!

I have managed to showcase the richness and diversity of both cultures in my time here, which has led to the development of new traditions and practices for me.

“Culture is an important aspect of humanity that defines our way of life, traditions, beliefs, and values. Some aspects people may love about their cultures are family values, cuisine, and lifestyle, and language, religious and spiritual beliefs. I for one definitely have loved sharing who I am here in Aotearoa!”

Do you believe it is important to have diversity in your role as a midwife?

"Midwives work with women from many different cultures. Diversity in the midwifery role is vital to providing safe, respectful, and culturally responsive care to women from diverse backgrounds. It ensures that midwives can provide personalised care, promote better health outcomes, and eliminate health disparities.”

How do you help patients who are from ethnic communities to feel comfortable in your care?

“I try to find out and understand their culture. It is about respecting every person and giving them information to make an informed decision. Midwifery is a partnership and it is therefore about working together with the women who are under my care.”


How do you and the community celebrate Africa day in Wellington?

“Africa day is celebrated annually on the 25 May to commemorate the founding of the organisation of African unity. In New Zealand, there are various ways in which we celebrate Africa Day. This includes organising cultural festivals and community gatherings to showcase the rich cultural heritage Africans have such as traditional music, dance, clothing and food. The African Communities Council of Wellington (ACCW) of which I am the vice president organises these events in Wellington.”

What aspects about your culture do you love the most?

“So much! I love to dance, I love our food, language, clothing, traditions and religion.”

Could you describe what you are wearing?

“I am wearing a head wrap, or we call it Ki tambala in our language. It has considerable importance in African culture, especially for women. Wearing a head wrap is a practiced tradition that has been passed down from Africa's ancestors. The head wrap comes in various colours, styles, and materials. Different designs represent different meanings and symbolism including and not limited to cultural identity, religious beliefs, modesty and fashion.”