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African countries hold cultural display in London during Olympics

posted 7 Aug 2012, 08:25 by Mpelembe   [ updated 7 Aug 2012, 08:25 ]

The 'Africa village', an area dedicated to showcase the continent's heritage opens in London to allow audiences to discover sports, as well as cultural and artistic diversity of some of the African countries participating in the Olympics.

Visitors attending the Olympic Games will get an opportunity to experience African culture and sports for the very first time at a special hospitality house dubbed the Africa village.
The village which opened on July 27th was set up by the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) and hopes to give people a chance to experience African culture and art while in London.

Over 25 countries are represented at the event.

"Because we have displayed our wares here, people come here and they see the wares, they ask us questions how the wares are made and we explain to them. And I would like to say that all that you see in the stand is all handmade by people that actually haven't even gone to art schools and so forth," said Nkagisang Ellis, a representative of various women's co-operatives in Botswana who displayed handicrafts.

The Africa village is made up of two areas, Africa land and Africa house. Africa land is an exhibition that showcases various works of art and products from the continent as well daily music, theatre and fashion shows.

Africa house will give national olympic committees a chance to meet with some of the continent's top athletes and provide a venue for media interviews.

"The African village allows African athletes to come and get refreshed in the heart of their family. To get the strength to go forth and struggle to win medals. The African Village allows African countries to present Africa to visitors and participants in the games," said Frank Bili Kodjo, the Project Manager, at Ivory Coast Tourism.

11 million visitors are expected at the London Olympics and ANOCA hopes to attract a number of them to learn more about Africa in a unique setting.

Ethiopia one of Africa's favorites in athletics was also well represented at the show. Ayele Gelaneh, the country's director of tourism, marketing and development said this was a chance to market Ethiopia and attract more tourists.

"This is a very good opportunity that we've got this chance because we've got one of the best athletes and one of the most unique attractions in the world. So it is a very good opportunity to reflect the image of Ethiopia," said Gelaneh.

Steve Allen, a Togolese artist who's documented a number of Olympic games in the past is also exhibiting his work at the village.

This time he chose to highlight the importance of African participation in the games.

"The painting represents sport. Africa's contribution to sport and not just now and in the past - but in programmes that are being put forth, being developed to - how shall I say- broaden Africa's involvement in the different sports," said Allen.

The Africa Village closes on August 21st in the meantime audiences will also be able to watch live updates on competitions and performances of African athletes as the visit.

Kenya is currently leading in the African Olympic medal standings with a total of 5 medals. South Africa and Ethiopia have 4.