Reported by Laura Brown
Round table discussion, exhibitions and a large number of personalities involved made Africa more interesting at the just concluded first Africa Expo at Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center between the 17th and 20th of March.
As the audience enjoyed coffee made of African coffee beans, speaker after speaker used nostalgia, anecdote, slogan, images, and rhetoric to buttress their points on why Africa is so interesting, and why it is the continent of the future.
János Hóvári went down memory lane describing the relationship between Africa and Hungary as old and cordial even though there are only two Hungarian embassies in Sub-Saharan Africa (in Nairobi, Kenya and in Pretoria, South Africa). The Deputy State Secretary for Global Affairs added that “Africa is the continent of the future”.
Angolan ambassador H.E. Mr. João Miguel Vahekeni was elated as he said that “finally what I have been trying to do for 8 years [in Hungary] has been achieved”. Vahekeni who is also the Dean of African Ambassadors in Hungary explained further that “there are hidden treasures” in Africa despite the fact that the continent hasn’t been in the limelight in the past 20 years.
Also aired their views on the topic were participants at the round table discussion comprising of Kata Jaksity, documentary filmmaker, István Tarrósy, professor of African studies at the University of Pécs, and France Mutombo Tshimuanga, Foundation of Africa director.
Jaksity who joked that she has caught the incurable “African virus” told the audience that it’s her films about Africa that eventually made her famous despite the fact that she had previously made some films in Hungary.
For Tarrósy, his ideas of Africa as an interesting continent or the continent of the future stems from education perspective, illustrating how his students grew from three to forty in a matter of five years.
However Mutombo, a Congolese residing in Hungary for the past 15 years, explained why Hungary is interesting for Africa. He said that Hungary opened up many opportunities for young people by bringing them to Europe and offering them a better education. He juxtaposed the two continents with illustration of a way of life.
“Europeans, including Hungarians,” he said. “Live a mathematical or robot-like life by calculating everything, from when to finish their studies and get a job, to getting married and having children, while in Africa people let nature decide, and therefore live a more peaceful and relaxed life”.
Responding to how the continent is becoming more popular and acknowledged in Hungary, Kembe, whose father is from Congo, quoted Neil Armstrong, “[it’s] one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
Well, is it African turn to be in the spotlight? András Kele, Hungexpo’s director of exhibitions, used last year’s World Cup’s slogan, “This time for Africa” as an illustration of the continent’s future: It’s Africa’s turn to be in the spotlight.
The countries represented at the Expo are the Republic of Kenya, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Tunisia Republic, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Madagascar, the Republic of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Written by Hakeem Babalola