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The art of Africa takes centre stage at the Sanaa Africa Festival, a four-day long celebration for Africa Day. Expect dance, music, poetry, theatre and film, among other activities.
AFRICA Day in Johannesburg – home of migrants from all over the continent – will be celebrated with an eclectic line-up of music, dance and arts from Thursday, 24 May to Sunday, 27 May at Shine studios in Braamfontein, for the Sanaa Africa Festival.

A scene from Vuka MachelA scene from Vuka MachelIn its third year, Sanaa Africa is a four-day African cultural festival that this year promises a bolder and more exciting programme. “An all-encompassing, one of a kind event, Sana explores the rich African heritage from a contemporary perspective and pays tribute to our continent’s eclectically talented creative legacy,” says one of the organisers, Brenda Sisane.

Sanaa is a Swahili word that means “to create from your heritage”. With its great line-up of film, slam poetry, dance and theatre, art exhibitions and fashion shows, visitors will have plenty of choices.

Africa Day is celebrated on 25 May each year to mark the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Union, the precursor to the African Union. Activities will begin on Thursday at 10am with an art exhibition. Curated by Daniel Mosako, it probes different elements of cosmopolitan urban scapes.

Artists with work on show include Gift Mangena, Antony Kaminju, Ike Nkoane, John Taiouss Tuyisabe and Roy Solomon Ndinisa. Sanaa Africa Festival is supported by the City of Johannesburg and sponsored by Multichoice, Iburst, ADT, Moyo’s Restaurant.

Fashion lovers can experience the thrill and excitement of the fast-paced fashion world on Thursday at a fashion show headed by Alinah Seloane Missouri who has been an active member of the fashion industry for the past 10 years.

Designers who will showcase their collections include Epharaim Molingoane, Liz Ogumbo, Shaldon Kopman, Palesa Segapo, Gugu Mlambo Msomi and Sylvester Falata.

Catch Dorothy Masuku at Dorothy Masuku Works from major and smaller theatre producers are shown on Friday and Saturday. Performances include Vuka Machel, directed by the award-winning Mncedisi Shabangu, and Warona Seane’s Sweet Summer Juice.

Vuka Machel tells the story of two chicken thieves in KaNyamazane called Waiza and Bhoboza, who argue about almost everything in their day to day lives. Waiza studied history and is obsessed with the French revolution and the French philosophers, and Bhoboza is a great admirer of Samora Machel, the former leader of Mozambique.

But both lack knowledge when it comes to their political beliefs. One day a question arises: “What if Samora Machel wakes up to find his wife is married to Nelson Mandela?”

Sweet Summer Juice is a story about a little boy called Koma who is an avid dreamer. Whenever he has interesting dreams he turns them into stories to tell at the secret club for children only.

In addition to the performances, there is a play-reading festival to encourage dialogue about theatre, politics and socio economics. The audience will also be treated to plays from various parts of Africa each evening by well-known actors Makgano Mambolo and Sello Motloung.

Dance companies also perform, from Thursday to Saturday. Vuyani Dance theatre will perform two pieces, Umnikelo and Skeleton Dry. Umnikelo is a Zulu word that refers to an offering, oblation or sacrifice. Skeleton Dry looks at the history and legend behind Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. The show takes audiences on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual connection to the historical stories associated with that area.

RingoPopular musician Ringo will perform at an Africa Day concertMoving into Dance Mophatong presents four works – Silent Departure, The Triumph, Kofifi Kwela and Mahlathini and the Mahotela. Silent Departure reflects on how many people in South Africa are still waiting for the new South Africa. The Triumph, choreography by Sifiso Kweyama, explores the triumph of winning our freedom and Kofifi Kwela is a celebration of Kofifi dance.

A series of films focusing on Africa are also to be screened on 25 May and 26 May by the Gauteng Film Commission. They include Skyf, The Adventures of Bhamuza, Weakness, Made in China, Soweto Drift and Man on the Ground.

In the spirit of celebration, the festival will be marked by performances from some of Africa’s leading artists on 26 May. The line-up features Ringo Madlingozi, Dorothy Masuku and Cameroonian musician Della Tamin and Ovuma.

A range of exotic arts and crafts by skilled African artists from Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Congo will also be on display for the duration of the festival. Restaurants participating in the event are Moyo and Nambitha.

The Djembe Folla EnsembleThe Djembe Folla EnsembleOn Saturday, 26 May there will be an evening poetry session with poets from Southern Africa sharing their works.

The highlight is a drumming session by the Djembe Folla Ensemble. South African artist Happy Dlane will create an artwork depicting the mood of the evening.

Doors are open to the public from 24 May, with morning programmes for schools from 10am until 1pm. Tickets for access to the shows and network lounge amenities are available from Computicket from R50 per person.

For further information about the Sanaa Africa Festival, contact Brenda Sisane on 072 754 0212 or send an email to Shine Studios is on the corner of Smit and Henri streets in Braamfontein.

In a separate Africa Day celebration, the Department of Arts and Culture is holding a three-day film festival at the SterKinekor 5 in Sandton City. Films screened on Thursday include Hope on the Horizon at 2.30pm and Juju Factory at 7.30pm.

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