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STUTTGART CELEBRATES AFRICA - AFRICA FESTIVAL STUTTGART 2004

Interview with Dr. Regina Jautz.      Chat with Akinyi Bittner.      Opinions

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Dr. Regina Jautz works for the Cultural Office in Stuttgart and designated by the Office to be a member of the organizing committee responsible for the 'Afrika festival' in Stuttgart. In her official role, she works together with African and German members of the committee to make the festival a success. In an interview with AFRITOPIC, she gives in an insight to the development and aims of the festival.

Afritopic: What is the aim of the 'Afrika Festival' Stuttgart?

Jautz: With the festival, we would like to present Africa and the African culture to the people in and around Stuttgart. We would like to integrate Africans and the African culture into the intercultural community life in Stuttgart.

Afritopic: When was the festival initiated and what is the concept of the festival?

Jautz: The festival was initiated last year 2003, in a joint effort of the African community in Stuttgart and the Kulturamt Stuttgart (cultural office, Stuttgart). This year's festival is the second one we are organizing and we are happy to see a big increase in the number off visitors despite the bad weather. We try to find a concept that would attract not only Africans but also people from different nationalities, young and old.        continue>

African fashion for kids and teens

Afritopic: How do you plan, organize and coordinate the festival's programs?

Jautz: The committee members from different countries including Germany, Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria work together as a team. We do not have a position of the 'head of the committee'. We discuss the concept and plan the program of the festival together. After deciding on the program of events, each member is assigned a set of tasks for which he/she is responsible. However, everyone is ready to help wherever help is needed. Organizing and coordinating the festival is not so easy and involves a lot of work. But it's fun and we enjoy doing it.
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A child model at the fashion show
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Dr. Regina Jautz

Afritopic: How is the festival financed?

Jautz: The major sponsor of the festival is the cultural office, Stuttgart. The cultural office supported the festival financially out of the budget allocated to intercultural development projects. We also received sponsorship from Daimler Chrysler AG. But the financial support does not cover all the expenses. We have to generate the rest of the finance through other means such as charging fees for stall spaces. We hope to have more sponsors supporting the festival in the future due to the success of the event.

Afritopic: Do you see any further development of the festival in the future?

Jauttz: If the festival continues to be successful and pulling large number of visitors, I could imagine moving the location to a larger premise. I hope that we would then be able to invite popular music groups and stars. As you know, music stars are not cheap. But with gate fees and concert fees the expenses could be covered. Meanwhile, we love what we are doing and hope that the visitors would be at the festival in high numbers again next year. End

African dancer performing during the fashion show interlude
Guy Akame - a member of the festival's committee 
 
Akinyi Bittner organized the fashion show presented at the 'Afrika Festival' in Stuttgart. A graduate of education from Kenya, she is interested in entertainment and event management. In a brief discussion with AFRITOPIC, she talks about her area of interest and the motivation for her activities.
I attended fashion shows presented by some fashion shops. I found them boring. My intention here at the festival is to present a cultural show that combines traditional African fashion with both traditional and modern African music. The aim is to make the audience develop interest in African culture through entertainment and visual information. I keep an eye on the show and watch the reaction of the audience. If I see the audience getting involved, having fun, dancing or applauding the show, then I know that the program is on the right track. But whenever I notice that the show is getting boring or the audience seems to be loosing interest, I would change the program of the event impromptu. In this way I leave room for improvisation.    continue>
Safnama- Band from Senegambia performing
I developed my interest in organizing entertaining events while I was at school in Kenya. On coming to Germany, I found it cold and relatively lonesome. I was the only black living in my area. I did not want to be depressed. So, I decided to be active and try to do what I love doing. I contacted the Volkshochschule (School for adult education/evening classes) to offer courses relating to African culture and women movement. Through the contact, I realized that there is demand for information on African culture as well as outlets for African services and products in German. People in my class were asking me for information. In most cases, I was able to provide relevant information. People wanted to know for example, where they could find an African musician, choir, hairdressing or beauty expert. I also started receiving calls from more people who needed information relating to afro-centric events. This inspired me to start offering my competence in organizing and managing events. I offered my competence for free. With time, people started showing their appreciation with occasional gift acknowledgements.
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A family at the festival
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Akinyi Bittner
I would like to help in organizing or coordinating as many events as possible. At the end of the program of an event, It is important for me to introduce those that participate in the event to the audience and share the credit with all. I did exactly that at the end of the show in Stuttgart. I presented those who donated the dresses and all those who contributed to the show in one way or the other to the audience with applause. In the future, I hope to be able to introduce unknown African artists residing in Africa to the German audience. End
 
OPINIONS 
Catherine Diehl: I am from Kenya. The festival is good for our business. It gives us the opportunity to make friendly and business contacts. People are interested in African culture and ask a lot of questions concerning the products. Most of the customers want to know which African country produces the sculptures I am selling. Some are inquisitive about the materials of the products, while others are interested in the design of my African dress. I have been able to sell a few things and the customers are happy. I hope to present my goods again at the festival next year.
Catherine Diehl
Procy Schubert: The festival is nice but right now the music is boring. I think that the management of the event is not very good. I support the initiative and the motives behind the festival. The festival is necessary to promote African culture and products. I appreciate that. But the organization and management needs some improvement. My business focuses on Kenyan products especially Kenyan handicrafts. Yes, the demand for African handicraft and artworks is growing steadily and I hope it will continue to grow.
Procy Schubert
 
 
 
 

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