AFRICAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL TAKES OFF IN ALGERIA
From: Stephen Kwabena Effah, Algiers
Africa’s rich and authentic culture was stirred up here last weekend with impressive artistic performances by various artistes at the official opening of the second Pan African Cultural Festival (PANAF).
Since last Saturday, Algiers, the capital of Algeria, became the cultural hub of the continent with the hosting of performing groups from 53 countries to showcase their rich heritage.
On Saturday, the “African spirit” was ignited by a carefully crafted six-hour cultural caravan through the streets of Algiers, giving the people a feel of the three week long events which ends on July 20.
Hundreds of Algerians and visitors of all ages defied the scorch sun to line up the street to catch a glimpse of what true African culture is.
By 2:00pm local time, when the caravan was about to take off, the crowd had tripled, some watching the procession from their balcony and windows as the richly decorated trucks displaying specific traditional symbols and heritage rolled through the streets in turns.
The artistes sang and danced while the teeming crowd continued applauding and yearned for more with shouts of encore! encore! To those who witnessed the first PANAF in Algeria in July 1969, the caravan was a rare showcase and reflective of true Pan Africanism. The atmosphere was a celebratory one.
Flags of the participating countries flew flying high along most of Algiers, the Whit City. The atmosphere was further enlivened by flying helicopters, and the Mediterranean coast, in the background. Some choreography and cultural display reflected Africa’s struggle against colonialism.
The colourful night’s event began with a formation of a big African map sparks of flaming fire on the platform of the main stage, while a man holding the hand of a child moved round it and told the story of how Africans were colonized in Arabic.
The choreography was coordinated with music by the Senegalese superstar, Yousou Dour, Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde, and the Algerian, Ouarada El Djazairia, among others, to potray the invasion and enslavement of Africa.
Zouaoui Benhamadi, Executive Committee Director of PANAF described the event as “the biggest rally in the world of artists and intellectual at the same place at the same time, touching on all facets of human culture”.
The African Union representative, Jean Ping, said unlike the first PANAF which took place 40 years ago at the time when most African countries were fighting for independence, “today, PANAF is organized under the sign of Africa’s rebirth,” which faces multiple challenges like African identity.
He underscored the need to preserve African culture, which he said could contribute to the development of the continent, as well as promote its place in the world.
Ghanaian Times page: 11 Saturday, July 11, 2009