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Text: Lucie Němečková, director of the festival Creative Africa or We Are All Africans
Photo: Irena Vodáková
The whole festival was full of music and dance from different places in Africa performed by Sahar, Aneboafro, TiDi-TaDe, Nsango Malamu, and BaToCu. The programme included performances by theatre associations and various activities, such as The Tales of Afrikaan the Bird, Theatre without Borders – Czech Africans’ Theatre, Siya brand fashion show, a music and arts workshop, a market with a wide range of African food from six countries, Moroccan argan oil cosmetics, Ghanian shea butter, African-themed books of the Dar ibn Rushd publishing house, and presentations of the Humanitas Africa information centre. The visitors of this unique event were welcomed by the Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan, Mr. Ahmed Abdelrahman Swareldahab, who has recently become a head of all African embassies in the Czech Republic.
The National Theatre symbolically transformed into the Theatre of Nations and the festival culminated with the performance of Czech Africans. However, the first three days, 9th to 12th May, were dedicated to the Comoro Islands. That was because of the arrival of Soeuf Elbadawi, author, theatre person, musician, documentarist, publicist, and a Comoro people’s rights activist, who is considered one of the Africa’s most respected contemporary francophone writers. We had a unique opportunity to see Elbadawi’s works from different angles through debates at the Charles University Department of Theatre Science and Václav Havel Library and a public reading at the Viola theatre. We learned about the Comorian cultural traditions as well as the today’s life at the Comoro Islands and about Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, one of the most distant points of the EU, which is slowly becoming one of the largest necropoleis under the indifference of the rest of the world. Soeuf Elbadawi’s work is an impressive testimony of this humanitarian crisis. On 12th May, his “dhikri”, that is “tears” for the drawn Comorian brothers were staged at the Viola theatre. The public reading called Temptation of the Moon was performed by actors Irena Kristeková and Petr Stach accompanied by the drummer Papis Nyass under the direction of Jakub Šmíd. This very first Czech translation of a Comorian author is a collaborative work of Michal Lázňovský and Matylda Lázňovská. The debate at the Václav Havel Library was streamed online via Facebook, which enabled people from the Comoro Islands to watch it. Many Comorian intellectuals welcomed the visit of Soeuf Elbadawi in the Czech Republic by calling it a Comorian spring in Prague.
Creative Africa is a festival which takes place every year in Prague, Hradec Králové, and Brno. In January this year, students of Božena Němcová Grammar School in Hradec Králové, Matyáš Lerch Grammar School in Brno and the Prague Academic Grammar School in Štěpánská Street started working on a translation of a collection of poems by Cayi Mkhele, a Congolese-French author. The best translations were then chosen by a jury of three prominent experts: Jovanka Šotolová, Petr Borkovec, and Julek Neumann and published as Murmures d’Afrique/Šepoty Afriky (Africa’s Whispering) by Acoria, a Parisian publishing house. The half-year project ended in May with a series of student workshops and a presentation of the book at the Book World International Literary festival, where Caya Makhele introduced his newest novel Prague mornings inspired by the Czech capital.
Despite the regrettable lack of interest of the grant committee of the Ministry of Culture, Creative Africa is still here. We are thankful for to the crucial support of the Prague City Council, the French Institute, other partners, and especially the solidarity and interest of you – the audience. I believe that together we can look forward to a dignified celebration of the 15th year ahead of us!