The Artscape Theatre, in partnership with the Western Cape Government, held its annual Africa Day celebration with African cuisine at the centre of the event on Friday May 25.
Each African country organised an exhibition with information about their land, food and cultural trinkets, while visitors to the event sported brightly coloured dresses, beaded jewellery, scarves, hats and face paint.
Africa Day is celebrated on May 25 throughout the world to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, in 1963.
The celebrations reinforce African solidarity, unity in diversity, highlighting creativity, challenges and successes, and the cultural and economic potential of the continent.
Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux said Africa was people-driven. She said that Africa Day should be celebrated every day. “We can start here. I would like information on every country in the African continent in this building, so that our youth can learn about Africa, then we can start a conversation on transformation in our countries.
“Today I will give the undertaking that we will take hands with the government and with other countries so that young people can walk through the Artscape and say ‘I am an African, and I am proud’.”
The MEC for cultural affairs and sport, Anroux Marais, said although poverty was prevalent, Africa still had a lot to offer.
“We are a melting pot of culture and above all resilience. We are diverse and colourful. We need to make the world aware of all our successes and our everyday life.
“We have over 2 000 languages; we have the spirit of Ubuntu; we have world record holders in many parts of the continent. We unite in art and food.”
She said along with the Artscape, the Western Cape Government aimed to create an enabling environment for youth so that they became ambassadors of Africa.
“We shouldn’t look at ourselves as people with desperation. We should look at ourselves as people with potential.”
The Consul General of Zimbabwe and representative of the African consul generals, Bonface Mgobogobo, said Africa Day was a day that saw Africans coming together to celebrate how far we have come and how far we have to go to get democracy, peace and development on the continent.
He said the founding of the African Union in 1963 had given Africans common identity. He said the African Union had declared this year the year of anti-corruption as part of building a sustainable path for African transformation, which sought to install democratic justice for all and a peaceful, productive Africa. “Africa loses billions to corruption every year, which is shocking. Corruption has afforded things like human trafficking, drug trafficking and cross border crime, to occur, which paints a bleak picture for our continent.”
He said tremendous efforts were made by the African Union to campaign against corruption.
“As we celebrate this occasion, let’s all hold hands and fight against this cancer; corruption.”
He said he commended the South African government and the Western Cape Government for the swift way in which they handled the water crisis.
“It shows that if we work together, there is no crisis that we can’t overcome.”
Visitors to the event were able to grab free lunch from different African countries including a coconut chicken curry from Mozambique; sweet and savoury doughnuts from Madagascar; chicken muamba, homemade juice and sweet peanut treats from Angola and biltong from Namibia.
Misa Sylvester from Madagascar said Africa Day enabled countries to join together and show that they we are united.
“Today we wanted to represent our country with our foods and brochures informing people about what Madagascar has to offer.”
Some of the food included mofo berolina, a sweet, round doughnut, and also mofo sakay, a chilli bread. There were also meatballs and atchaars.
Ms Sylvester said African foods were all more or less the same.
“It’s all diverse, but if you go to another country, you will find the same foods.”
The consul general of Mozambique, Cristovao Jossias da Gloria Gemo, said Africa Day meant unity for Africa, and a chance for the continent to fight underdevelopment.
He said in Mozambique, there were different regions and each region had its speciality, but they had opted to go with a peanut meat curry mixed with coconut milk.
“Food and art brings Africa together. It shows we have so many things in common. The food are all variations of each other, which shows that you can find unity in diversity as well.”
Venceslau Nicolau, from Angola, said for him, Africa Day was a day that African countries could celebrate together and be united.
He said on the menu from Angola was homemade juice made with fruit, as well as some sweets made with peanuts, sugar and coconut. Guests were entertained with singing and dancing by the Artscape choir.