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  African Gala Evening in Dortmund with Imaney Ayissi's Fashion Show

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In an effort to create awareness of the situation of Africans living in Germany through dialogues and promotion of African culture, an event was organized in Dortmund, the geographical Ruhr Basin area of Germany. AFRITOPIC attended the event that included lectures, discussions and a gala evening with fashion show.
On the right side of the entrance, at Dietrich-Keuning-Haus in Dortmund, Germany, two representatives, a woman and a man, from Western Union stood with information pamphlets about the company’s money transfer business. On the left were three friendly African ladies standing behind a table, selling and checking the event’s entry tickets. After a short briefing about the advantages of sending money through Western Union and a pass through stamp on the hand, the guests entered a nicely decorated hall with a front stage. The atmosphere in the hall gave a feeling of what the evening is expected to be – An African Gala Evening. The gala evening event was the second part of a day’s event that took place on the 13 November 2004 in Dortmund, organized by the Cameroonian Community in the area. Mr. V. Djeumo, a graduate of journalism, spearheaded the organization of the grand event. The Cameroonian has been very active in organizing events to promote African culture in German for many years. The first half of the event consisted of lectures and discussions with topics ranging from the image of Africa in the German media to how Africans would like to be presented in the media. Speakers included academics, politicians, government officials and members from non-government organizations (NGOs). Approximately 80 people attended the very informative lectures. 

Slowly, the chairs and tables were occupied. At about 8 pm German time, the hall was nearly filled with people from different cultural origins albeit mostly Africans. The background music kept the guests in a festive mood while engaging in conversations and making new contacts. Africans, Germans and others from as far as the USA and Brazil, were present to experience and enjoy an African evening together. They did not have to wait long. The moderator, Alex Chongwa, a young Cameroonian graduate of communication and event management, did his duty. He came up the stage, welcomed the guests and introduced the organizers, sponsors and the very important people (VIP), which included member of the German Bundestag, Marco Bülow, the provincial government authorized representative for integration issues, Dr Lefringhausen, as well as

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Alex Chongwa - The moderator
the Journalist, Hans-Josef Dreckmann, who was a former correspondent in Africa for the German media ARD.  The professionalism of Alex Tchoungoué in his function as the moderator is commendable. He spoke lucidly in three languages namely French, English and German. He gave useful information
Dr Lefringhausen (far left) and other VIPs
 
concerning the aim of the event, which is to bring African culture nearer to the communities in Germany, thereby providing an opportunity for people from other culture to learn and hopefully have a better perception about Africa. He continued by explaining the program of the evening and finally declaring the event open with the announcement of the first African music group to perform.
 
Ali Keita featuring Djatou Touré
The evening was declared open and the party began. The first musician of the evening, Seva-Chat, an agile African lady from Congo, provided a warm up with Afro-plastic and soulful ballads. Dancing and singing with expressive feelings, she presented a good show and the guests showed their satisfaction with rounds of applause. Meanwhile, in a secluded area of the hall, varieties of African foods were being organized on long tables where guests could serve themselves for dinner. Soon, a short break was announced and guests were invited to enjoy exotic African cuisine. 
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Everyone could eat excellently prepared food consisting of fish, meat, beans, rice, plantains, yams, various vegetables and fried specialities or gourmet. The organization of the self-service dinner was very good. There was neither chaos nor shortage of cutlery. The dinner was

really enjoyable, as confirmed in quick interviews conducted by AFRITOPIC with some of the guests. The enjoyment continued with another African music artist based in Berlin, Djatou Touré. The lady in colourful African attire rendered original self composed African High-Life and Reggae as well as cover versions of popular Mariam Makeba tunes. This time, some of the guests could not resist their urge to dance any longer. They started dancing and soon the dancing floor was filled. The party is on and everybody was having a lot of fun. Africa is rich in culture. The diversity in the music art alone is enormous. This diversity is show cased in the different styles of music presented by each group/artist implementing unique African music instruments. One of the highlights of the music program was the performance by the musician from Ivory Coast, Ali Keita, who is arguably one of the best African xylophonists (Balaphonist) in the world. In his show, which featured the singer Djatou Touré, Ali demonstrated his expertise and creativity as a music artist. The hall was turned into little Africa, with no national, cultural, gender or age barrier. It was time to come together and experience the warmth of Africa.

Africa has been relatively successful in exporting African music and the impact of African music on musicians worldwide is undeniable. However, Africa has more creative talents to offer in other business sectors such as the fashion industry. In this sector, a renowned dancer and designer is gaining professional recognition as a fashion mogul. His name is Imane Ayissi. The Cameroon-born gentleman resides in Paris, where he has presented his designs in many fashion shows. At the African Gala Evening, the excitement on the guests’ faces was vivid when the moderator announced the fashion show presentation by Imane Ayissi. Beautiful models did the catwalk displaying fantabulous designs made of satin, silk, pure cotton and stretch materials. The hall vibrated with several rounds of applause that accompanied the fantastically choreographed show with background African rhythm. The show was simply superb. At the end of the show, the moderator introduced and thanked Imane and his team for accepting the invitation to the event. He expressed his appreciation of the guests' attendance and praised all participants for making the event a swell one. He then declared the open-end continuation of the party with a DJ. The party thus continued with people dancing and feeling Africa to the very best.   Afritopic

 

Comments from guests at the event
 
Julia Maute
 
I am a German interested in the African culture. I was informed about the event by a friend and decided to attend. It is a nice event with very interesting program. I am enjoying the music. It induces an African atmosphere. I am of the opinion that events like this one could help in changing one-sided and biased image many people have about Africa.   continue>
Photo impressions>
 
 
comments contd.
Magret Lingo
I am a German married to a Cameroonian. We have a language translation business and provide translation services to diverse industries and individuals. I was at the last event because the organizer informed me about it. I could see improvement in this year’s event. It is better organized. But the organizers should try and make the event more popular in the German community. This could be achieved by distributing well-designed information brochures that would attract German interest.
 
Mao-Mimi Fischer-Eniang
I sell tickets at the entrance and provide guests with necessary information concerning the event. I am happy to take part and help in organizing in the event. It is important for Africans to organize events that present African culture and inform the people about our beautiful continent. We should try and correct the negative image about Africa that the media project.
 
Erli Santos-Brück
I am from Brazil. I am married to a German and been living in Germany for over 20 years. I have a grown-up daughter, who is very interested in Fashion and would have loved to be here. Unfortunately, she has another important appointment and could not make it to the event. The event is well organized and the food is very good. I hope more African events of this quality would be organized in the future.  Afritopic
 
 
 
 
 

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