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Special Barking market showcases the cultures of Africa

PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 August 2019

Dancers at the market celebrating African culture. Picture: Gurpreet Bhatia

Dancers at the market celebrating African culture. Picture: Gurpreet Bhatia

Archant

A celebration of African culture came to Barking town centre to brighten up a rainy day.

MCs managing the entertainment. Picture: Luke Acton.MCs managing the entertainment. Picture: Luke Acton.

The African Showcase Market replaced the regular stalls on Wednesday, August 14.

It hosted music, dance, food and wares to show off what the continent is capable of.

Ola Mustapha founded the free event 16 years ago in her home borough of Brent.

Now, the party travels the capital to mark the city's diversity.

Dancing in the rain at the African market. Picture: Gurpreet BhatiaDancing in the rain at the African market. Picture: Gurpreet Bhatia

It's been an annual feature in Barking and Dagenham for the past 14 years, every time "celebrating diversity through culture."

"It's to celebrate diversity within the community," said Ms Mustapha.

"The goal of the event is cohesion, to bring people together.

"Even though it's called African Showcase, it's not limited to that. You don't have to come from Africa to be part of it."

Dancers showing their moves despite the rain. Picture: Luke Acton.Dancers showing their moves despite the rain. Picture: Luke Acton.

There were also people from Caribbean and European backgrounds, but all were linked to Africa in some way, mostly by selling authentic wares.

Commenting on the turnout in spite of the rain, Ms Mustapha said: "It's phenomenal. When it was raining, I was worried."

Out of the 48 stalls due to turn up, only 12 cancelled.

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"Everybody wants to celebrate," Ms Mustapha added.

"I'm just doing whatever I can to make this happen in every way."

The borough's mayor, River Ward councillor Peter Chand, also attended.

"We are showcasing the celebration of different communities to the borough," he said.

Performers at the event. Picture: Luke Acton.Performers at the event. Picture: Luke Acton.

"The African community is so vibrant. We need to do this more.

"In the rain, the amount of people who came not only to experience their culture, but to experience this wonderful food [is amazing].

"For me, we need more of this, we have a diverse community in Barking and Dagenham.

"We need this kind of showcase event to show this is what we bring."

There were 36 stalls at the showcase, all somehow linked to Africa. Picture: Luke Acton.There were 36 stalls at the showcase, all somehow linked to Africa. Picture: Luke Acton.

The event's main sponsor was Kaedi Recruitment Agency, which specialises in healthcare and education staff.

Oladapo Sulu is managing director at the company.

"This is the kind of event we need," he said.

"This is a wonderful event and we look forward to attending many more in the future."

More information about the event can be found at it's website, africanshowcasemarket.com.

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