Despite the wave of xenophobic attacks sweeping across South Africa, Capetonians are preparing to commemorate Africa Day with a two day festival initiated by refugees.
The African Cultural Festival takes place from 09:00 to 17:00 this Saturday and Sunday, May 24 and 25, at the Company's Garden in Cape Town.
Organised by the Alliance for Refugees in South Africa (Afrisa), the theme is 'one continent, one stage'.
"The festival is aimed at celebrating the rich heritage of Africa and proudly acknowledging great African statesmen who paved the way for the emancipation of this continent," says George Pambason, Director of Afrisa.
"Since its launch in 2005, this annual event has created a common platform to unite African people and harmonise their co-existence," he says.
The City of Cape Town's Department of Economic Development, Social Development and Tourism has sponsored R150 000 towards the event.
"The City embraces every initiative to promote a deeper respect for human rights and a greater acceptance of cultural diversity," says Cllr Simon Grindrod, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Social Development and Tourism.
This year's activities include a gourmet feast of at least 30 different African cuisines from Cairo to Cape Town.
There will also be an arts and crafts exhibition involving about 100 exhibitors, short films on African heritage, poetry readings, drama, song and dance performances by 50 cultural groups from various African countries, and an HIV-Aids awareness concert.
Participants include schools, consulates, embassies, cultural groups, NGOs, artists and crafters, government departments, universities and international agencies.
"Thousands of highly skilled African professionals leave their home countries each year to pursue better prospects in South Africa, many as refugees. We will hold an African People's Forum to address the need for realistic labour migration policies, safe money remittance policies, skills development in priority sectors, and a respect for human rights and particularly refugees' rights.
"It will also deal with the issue of 'brain waste' - such as doctors working as labourers - and the 'brain drain' - losing skills to European countries in priority sectors," says Pambason.
CITY OF CAPE TOWN
TEL: 021 400 3719
CLLR SIMON GRINDROD
MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR ECONOMIC, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT & TOURISM
TEL: 021 400 1384 CELL: 084 200 6060
DIRECTOR: ALLIANCE FOR REFUGEES IN SOUTH AFRICA (AFRISA)
TEL: 021 421 2348 CELL: 078 255 8466