Africa: First Ever Africa House During London Olympics

The first ever Africa House has opened its doors during the Olympic Games in London last weekend. This will allow African athletes to be celebrated in their own hospitality house during the world’s foremost sports event. But it’s not just athletes who will be celebrated.

The Africa House is actually part of the “Africa Village,” which comprises of two areas namely the Africa House and the Africa Land. It is where all the 53 African National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have joined forces to showcase the best in African sport and culture.

The Africa House is the official area where 53 African NOCs will be welcoming among others African sports leaders but also all the African athletes competing in London.

On the other hand, the Africa Land is a space where a wider audience can discover a village of stands presenting the cultural and artistic diversity of the African continent. It has an exhibition area and a restaurant open to the public.

One of London’s most loved parks, Kensington Garden, where the village is set, is buzzing with modern Nigerian music. The beats come from behind metal fencing covered with African printed banners. A small group of visitors goes through a mild security check to enter the village. Despite the rainy weather forecast the sun is out on the first day of the 2012 Olympics.

Cosmopolitan street

Inside several African nations are part of a ‘street’ of stands in which modest collections of African arts, tools and touristic information are laid out. The Nigerian stand is an exception. DJ Abass, the countries’ representative, plays his music while couple of Nigerian girls wiggle their hips.

Although Nigeria is one of the few African countries that has its own independent hospitality house in London, DJ Abass thinks it is important that Nigeria is part of the Africa Village.

“The mix of cultures makes this village unique. It adds to the cosmopolitan feel of the Olympics,” he explains. “I also think this village is a fantastic recognition of the presence of African communities in the UK.”

African hug

The Africa Village will not only bring the Olympics African arts, music and fashion, according to DJ Abass, it will also show visitors what African warmth is: “Here in London you can live somewhere and not know your neighbors for ten years. That would never happen in Africa. I hope people will experience the atmosphere here as a warm African hug.”

Cameroonian country representative, Jean Mboglem, also hopes visitors will learn more about Africa through the village. “A lot of people don’t know a lot about Africa. I hope this will give people another dimension in the way Africa is perceived.”

Just a day out

A group of four friends are watching the sport events on a large screen at the end of the village’s ‘street’. “I think the village atmosphere breathes a sense of community and tranquility,” one of them says. “I hope Africa can show the Olympics that we can all get along no matter what race or color.”

He looks at his friends and then laughs: ” The food is great, the people are great. Most importantly for us this is just a great day out.”

Next to the screen there is an empty stage where performances will be held later today, and where later this week, hopefully, the first African medal winners of the 2012 Olympics will be cheered upon. – RNW



Posted by on Jul 31 2012. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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