African culture shines at Global Village festival

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African culture shines at Global Village festival


Participants enjoying the first African festival held by Seongbuk Global Village Center near Hansung University Subway Station on Saturday. About 5,000 Koreans and African expatriates were estimated to have attended the festival. Provided by the Seongbuk Global Village Center

Drums, leopard-print shirts and smoked beef skewers highlighted the first African festival held by the Seongbuk Global Village Center on Saturday, where African expatriates and Korean residents mingled and shared authentic African culture.

At the fountain park near the Hansung University subway station, about 5,000 people participated in the festival dedicated to giving Korean residents a rare chance to look at the diversity and culture of the African continent.

“I think this is very good that African people come here to meet together and show African culture to Korean people,” said Dianka Gafabe, a 26-year-old Senegalese student studying Korean at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. “It is like a melting pot.”

Many participants pointed to the variety of African foods being sold as their favorite part of the festival.

“The food is very authentic,” said Jason Hooliston, a 23-year-old from South Africa who studies architecture in Seoul. “Their taste is very similar with the food in Africa.”

Around the main stage where many musicians and dancers performed was an array of outdoor booths displaying traditional African dishes, clothes and other items for sale.

One of the most popular booths was for the Republic of Congo. Korean visitors crowded to try the country’s traditional grilled beef skewers, called kamundele, which cost 3,000 won ($2.76) each and were cooked by native Congolese people.

At the opening ceremony, which started at 2 p.m., diplomats and ambassadors from all of the 17 African embassies in Seoul attended.

“The festival was a success,” said Choi Ok, the official in charge of the event at the Seongbuk Global Village Center, to the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“After the festival, the ambassadors expressed their gratitude for holding such a large-scale festival for African culture. In particular, the Kenyan ambassador said it was the most enjoyable festival for him in the three years since he came to Korea.”

The festival saw a lot of Korean guests. Young university students took plenty of photos of the festivities while middle-aged housewives cuddling their babies showed a model giraffe to their kids and old couples sat near the fountain tasting African dishes.

“We tried to introduce African culture to the Korean people, particularly for those who might have some prejudices about Africa,” Choi said. “Through this kind of event, we hoped they could meet with African people, taste their foods and understand the culture of the countries located far from Korea.”

The city-run center has hosted a series of international festivals, including a Latin American festival held every June and a European outdoor market festival in December.

“We have not fixed the African festival as a regular event for September,” Choi said.

“We are thinking about holding different kinds of festivals introducing a variety of countries’ traditions. Not just Africa, but other Asian countries.”

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