Swahili Event – 03.11.18 – (As seen from the eyes of a member of Pamoja Kenya Association Denmark-PKAD)

This is a thank you letter to our neighbours on the southern border, our Tanzanian brothers and sisters. What an event! Last Saturday, the 3rd of November, you managed to bring together Ghanaians, Kenyans, Nigerians, Ugandans, Somalis and many other African countries together, not to forget Danes. Last Saturday, we all walked around admiring products with ‘Made in Africa’ all over them.

You see, it was not so much the products that were in focus, as the conversations around them. One of my absolute highlights was when an elderly Danish lady came over to our Pamoja Kenya stand, picked up a book by Professor Wangari Maathai, and told me a long interesting story about how she met and worked with the late Nobel laureate more than 30 years ago back in Nairobi. It was so overwhelming to meet someone who had known and worked with my lifelong heroine.

I met Danes who were eager to speak in Swahili, to tell stories of their lives in Africa. Even after all those years away from Africa, they remembered the streets they had lived in, the people they had worked with, Africa was still with them. An amazing dance group, a blend of Danes and Tanzanians, did a Sukuma traditional dance. A Ugandan duo entertained us with a traditional dance, amid cheers and ululations. It got me thinking how fortunate we are to belong to a continent with such a rich culture.

The event did not discriminate, all ages were represented, children were crawling on the floor, as young as two years old in their African regalia, or dancing to the danishanised African song with their parents. My teenage daughter and I played a game of guessing where the different people came from, depending on their looks. “He must be a Tanzanian.” “That one is for sure a Kenyan.” ”The Ugandans look like this.” We would also laugh at the generalization of it all. But ya, it takes some confidence in ones Kenyanness, and a feel of belonging, to make such bold statements.

We had African food and drank Tusker as we listened to ‘Hakuna Matata’ played on a saxophone, and watched a fashion show of African fabrics in display. For a moment we might have been in Lagos or Kampala, Dodoma or Nairobi.

For me, Christmas came early this year, on the 3rd of November, right in the middle of the beautiful Nansensgade neighbourhood in the heart of Copenhagen.

In the spirit of the great Mwalimu Nyerere, Africa was at the center of it all.