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Friday, April 1, 2011

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Cultural celebration: Attendees at the African Festival in Yokohama in 2009 peruse items on display at a market. This stall features goods from Ghana.


Yokohama to come alive with African culture

Staff writer

Since the March 11 earthquake struck the northeast of Japan, the country's immigration bureau says that more than 160,000 foreign residents have left the country seeking safer shores.

News photo
A live performance of African drumming at the 2009 African Festival.

"A friend in need is a friend indeed," says Edwin Matey Cofie, chairman of the African Festival committee, who has decided not to cancel the event or leave the country, but would rather "stay and lend a hand."

The African Festival, an annual event, is in now it's fourth year and begins Friday, to go on for a period of three days until April 3. It will again take place at the Red Brick Warehouse compound in Yokohama, and in a show of sympathy and international friendship, donation boxes will be setup at the venue, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Yokohama City Kanto-Tohoku Earthquake Victims Fund.

The impressive bill of events includes live performances by both African and Japanese acts. Mari from J-pop duo Tamtam will host the event as MC and the lineup will showcase African singing, drumming and dancing. There will also be workshops to introduce visitors to various African instruments, and for the more outgoing there will be lessons in traditional African dance. Other events comprise a fashion show, a photo exhibition and an African quiz corner, where participants will be awarded prizes for their knowledge of Africa and its culture.

The festival's program is appealing in itself; however, what really draws in the crowd are the food stalls and the market place. With more than 20 stalls, offering goods from many African nations, a wide array of products will be on offer at the market. As for the cuisine, included on the menu will be fare from Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal among others.

"African Festival Yokohama" runs till April 3 at Red Brick Warehouse Building 1 in Yokohama. Entry is free. For more information, visit africanfestyokohama.com.

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