Celebrate Africa in Johannesburg

25 May 2010

Starting from Africa Day, 25 May and stretching through the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Johannesburg celebrates the art, culture, music and literature of the continent through a variety of activities at venues across the city.

Without Masks

Africa will be celebrated through four major exhibitions at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. The main event will be an Afro-Cuban display entitled Without Masks, says Antoinette Murdoch, the chief curator at the gallery.

Opening on 25 May, the exhibition features work from 25 contemporary Cuban artists, curated by Orlando Hernandes. It will comprise 80 pieces, covering work from 1980 to 2009.

“We have chosen this brief period of Cuban art because in many ways it is in this interval when the treatment of Afro-Cuban themes acquires new characteristics that remarkably contrast with relatively stereotyped, idealised or picturesque nature predominant in former periods, particularly during the entire 19th century and a good part of the 20th century,” Hernandes says.

He describes the collection as being a “work in progress”, which will include pieces by artists from various generations.

A range of mediums will be on show, such as paintings on canvas and wood; watercolours; drawings; engraving such as xylograving, silkscreen and collography; collages; patchwork; installation; soft sculptures; photography; video installation; and video art.

2010 art show

Meanwhile, African artists are exhibiting their works in a huge show at Museum Africa in Newtown. The show is also a parallel event of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which runs from 11 June to 11 July.

Called SPace: Currencies in Contemporary Art, the exhibition it opened on 11 May and will run until 11 July.

“This is an important pan-African contemporary art exhibition recognised as an official 2010 Fifa World Cup host city event,” Sibongile Mazibuko, head of the city’s 2010 office, said at the announcement of the exhibition last year.

The city’s portfolio head of community development, Bafana Sithole, said: “When the World Cup has come and gone, there should be something of value left behind … This exhibition is meant to portray the continent’s diverse cultures and for African artists to showcase their work. It is also meant to draw global attention to Africa.”

Book fair

In celebration of Africa Week, Joburg’s library and information services unit has arranged a book fair to highlight the importance of indigenous literature, languages and writers.

On 26 May, there will be Africa Day celebrations at four high schools in Soweto, each school representing a different an African country.

The Bassline in Newtown will host musical greats from across the continent on Reggae Night. Pops Mohammed and Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi will also perform.

African Union

Africa Day commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. On that day, 30 leaders from African countries signed a founding charter with the hope that all African states should unite so that the welfare of their peoples could be assured.

The OAU is the predecessor of the African Union (AU), which aims to secure democracy and human rights on the continent, and sustain Africa’s economies by ending intra-African conflict and creating a common market.

The AU, formed in 2002, is made up of 53 African nations and is designed along the lines of the European Union. At present, it has the power to promote African economic, social and political integration.

Source: City of Johannesburg