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AFRO FESTIVAL 2023 – KENYA, THE PRIDE OF AFRICA!

Afro Festival 2023The Afro Festival was held in the Museum of African Art from Friday, June 23, to Sunday, June 25. Every year in the last weekend of June, the MAU garden becomes a beehive of sorts for the gathering of a vast museum audience as well as numerous other art and music buffs, tourists, the diplomatic community and the general public, becoming a place to meet, exchange ideas and good feelings fueled by the discovery different forms of creativity that come from the African continent.

As a result of the exceptional international cooperation among the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Nairobi and the Museum of African Art, this year's honoured guest of honour was the Republic of Kenya. The Ministry of Youth Affairs, Arts and Sports of Kenya and the Cultural Center of Kenya presented their rich cultural heritage with an exclusive programme under the slogan "Kenya – The Pride of Africa!", with performances by over thirty music and dance artists and sale exhibitions of traditional and contemporary art and craft products, fashion design, textiles, jewellery.

The Festival opened with a new thematic exhibition "Art, in Spite of Everything – Contemporary African Art from the Ilija Gubić Collection", curated by Aleksandra Gačić. In cooperation with the SANU Institute of Music, traditional and contemporary tracks from Burundi and Ethiopia were performed by The Sounds of East Africa and NG Kids – persons currently part of the Centre for Asylum Seekers in Krnjača. The opening was attended by Danijela Vanušić, Assistant Minister of Culture for Cultural Heritage Protection and Digitization.

Visitors enjoyed the “Kenyan Treasury” sale exhibitions organized by MAU guests of honour: a host of art, craft and everyday items and household objects, fashion design and accessories. During the whole day, creative workshops for children and adults organized by curators of the Museum were held, as well as a variety of educational and promotional programmes by two associations of African students in Belgrade World in Serbia (WSSSR) and SiVision. The Kenyan troupes "MAA" and "Kenge Kenge Orutu System" fascinated the audience with their traditional dance choreography and fusion of rumba, afro-fusion and local music styles of Kenya.

The highlight of the Festival, the so-called Durbar – day of friendship, music and dance – was held on Sunday, June 25. With the invaluable participation of the African embassies in Belgrade, in the pleasant garden of the Museum, this day celebrated African music, dance, craftsmanship, art and culture. The embassies of Algeria, Angola, Egypt, DR Congo, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, as well as the consulate of Jamaica, participated in this year's festival with richly decorated stands and an offer of traditional specialties. The visitors were addressed by Marija Aleksić, PhD, the director of the Museum of African Art, Mr Mohammed Amine Belhaj, the Dean of the Group of African Ambassadors as well as the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, Michael Pundo, the director of the Cultural Centre of Kenya, and Stanko Blagojević, Assistant Minister of Culture for International Cooperation and European Integration. Dr. Abraham Korir SingOei, the Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs of Kenya, Dragan Županjevac, the Ambassador of Serbia in Nairobi and Stanko Blagojević, Assistant Minister of Culture pointed out that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Serbia and Kenya, with the hope that this cooperation will continue in the future, be strengthened and deepened in the fields of economy, culture, sports and education.

On Monday, 26 June, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Minister of Culture Maja Gojković and the Minister of Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts of the Republic of Kenya Ababa Namwamba visited the Museum. Minister Gojković pointed out that both Serbia and Kenya aim to continue developing cooperation and the great friendship that has existed for 60 years between our two countries. Minister Namwamba said that he had the opportunity to visit many cities in Western Europe as well as America, but that nowhere outside Africa had he seen such an authentic African museum with artefacts that were not stolen or forcibly taken from Africa and were not tainted by colonialism, but were donated as a sign of friendship or were bought. Before visiting the Museum, Ministers Gojković and Namwamba attended another exceptional performance by the Kenyan troupes "Kenge Kenge Orutu System" and "MAA", which was open to the public free of charge, and took place in Belgrade’s central pedestrian zone, before numerous citizens and tourists.

 

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