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High school students, community members and non-profit organisations will hold debates and poetry sessions touching on African history, culture and xenophobia at the Walter Sisulu Freedom Square in Soweto.

 

SCORES of young people affected by the xenophobic violence that swept across Joburg in 2008 will meet at the Freedom Hall in Kliptown, Soweto, to thrash out issues on African history, culture and ‘Afriphobia’ in commemorating Africa Day, Wednesday 25 May.

BashonaphiOver 400 high school students and representatives from the community and non-profit organisations are expected to attend. Attendees will hold meaningful debates, panel discussions and poetry sessions under the theme “Bashonaphi Ubuntu We MaAfrika?” loosely translated as "What happened to humanity, Africans"?

The event, which starts at 9am until 3pm, will also be characterised by drumming and dance.

Young people will be bussed from Ebony Park and Ivory Park in the north of Joburg, the Inner City, Orange Farm and Soweto in the south. Poets and debating teams from these areas have already been coached and will talk about the need for Africans to find solutions to their own problems, say organisers.

Curbing hatred
AFURAKA, a non-profit community organisation has developed an educational programme, which seeks to curb hatred against fellow Africans through making young people aware of Africa’s “rich history and cultural wisdom”.

Attendees will be addressed by speakers from different African countries, and a panel discussion with entrepreneurs who have carved a niche in the South African market will be held.

“The dominant reason why some South Africans hate other Africans is ignorance,” says Baba Buntu, the director of AFURAKA. “Many South Africans do not see themselves as part of the African continent and know little about its history.

"The violence where Africans are attacking other Africans is best described as Afriphobia. The Africa history programme has been developed to inspire young people to take a responsible role in community development and eradication of animosity among Africans,” Buntu explains.

This year marks the 48th anniversary of Africa Day, which has been observed annually since 25 May, 1963. The day commemorates the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was set up to acknowledge and celebrate Africa’s diverse history, heritage and culture. The OAU was the forerunner of the current African Union (AU).

“Motivated by the need for liberated and democratic societies, African leaders and communities embarked on a journey towards greater self determination and peace building," says Bantu. "The violence and threats thereof against African migrants in South Africa is a violation to the dream of African unity.”

Africa Day Concert
Africa Day falls on Wednesday, however the annual free Africa Day concert, which has always attracted a diverse crowd, is scheduled for Saturday, 28 May.

On the bill is Baaba Maal from Senegal, Malian guitarist and vocalist Habib Koite; Olufemi from Nigeria; Namibia’s Elemotho; local hip-hop artists Tumi and the Volume; Durban’s Professor; Uju; the gospel group, The Soil; and newcomer Toya.

Another notable event is the Sanaa Africa Festival, which runs from Friday, 27 to Sunday, 29 May. Festivities will be held to expose a cross section of the multicultural continent, ranging from visual art, fashion, poetry, craft, song, storytelling and film. The festival aims to pay tribute to Africa’s creative industry. “It’s a veritable feast for the ears, eyes and soul,” say organisers.

It takes place at Moyo’s, next to Zoo Lake in Parkview, from 9am until 9pm. Entrance is free. For more information call 084 442 2381.

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