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03.11.2008 Travel & Tourism

African flair in Europe -As Cultural festivals find growing interest

By The Statesman

Listing to powerful drum beats and magical rhythms, watching colourful dancers, who melt with the music in expressional movements, it will just need a few seconds until the foreigner's mouth will be wide open in a huge fascination about the traditional African music styles.

Since there have been several African festivals spread throughout Europe during the last years and decades, Europeans do not necessarily have to travel to Africa to feel the sensation and the spirit of the traditional and new waves of African music and culture.

The biggest of these festivals in Europe is the Africa Festival in Wuerzburg, Germany, which celebrated its 20th Anniversary in May of this year. Over 100,000 people came peacefully together to experience a great exchange of culture, and the size of the audience rises from year to year.

Over the last 20 years more than 1,500,000 visitors from Germany and other foreign countries have travelled to Wuerzburg to witness the cultural wealth of Africa and to participate in Africa"s zest for life.

The colourful festival, which has begun as a mini-event at a community centre, is found and organized by Afro Project, a team of people who are eager to bring the music and culture of Africa closer to a greater public.

Since the first African Festival took place in 1989, over 3,050 musicians from North, South, East and West Africa performed live on stage.

Besides, the event includes African bazaars, a great offer of traditional food and drinks, as well as several workshops, entertainment for children, and a Late Night Program.

One of the plenty African contributors is the Ghanaian salesman, Frank Adunketsiah.

He has already travelled to the German festival for three times, and offered a huge assortment of drums and chains to the fascinated public.

"The people around here are like a big family', he said to a German magazine, appreciating the peaceful African event.

The presenter, Afro Project, acts as a politically independent non-profit organization and cooperates with various African embassies and organizations, as well as the European Union, several German cultural institutes, and many African artists and musicians in order to support the cultural exchange.

In addition, the team organizes exhibitions, workshops and other concerts, and thus propagates the riches of the African culture.

Also politicians appreciate such cultural events.

For instance, Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, sees the big Africa Festival as a great opportunity to stress the importance of cooperation with Africa.

 Moreover, around 35 ministers and ambassadors from 20 African countries were present this year to support this aim.

Building bridges between cultures, fascinating people and making contributions towards the coalescence of nations, the Africa Festival will hopefully continue its success in the following years.