African Culture Finds a New Home in Changsha
Daphine (4th R), Darlin (2nd R), and Jeninah (1st R) teach tourists to dance African folk dances at the Hecun African Cultural Park, Changsha on June 15. (Photo/Tian Chao, Hunan Daily)
On the morning of June 15, Ugandan sculptor Brain and his three partners were busy making a cobblestone sculpture called “They call it Africa, we call it home” on the bank of a reservoir at the Hecun African Cultural Park, Shaping Street, Kaifu District, Changsha. The sculpture was more than half finished. Brain and his partners are going to leave Changsha and return to Africa at the end of this month. They want to finish it before they leave to express their love for the park.
The Hecun African Cultural Park is China’s first village resort featuring African culture. Since its opening last July, more than 50 artists from Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia have come here to spread African culture and art. There are now 15 Ugandan artists at the park. Each has their own skill, such as iron art, wood carving, sculpture, oil painting, song and dance, and instrumental music.
Mike and Francis are good at iron art. They made robot and animal sculptures from materials such as used steel parts collected in Changsha. With 6 years of working experience, they finished 4 works in only 3 weeks after they began at the park. Mike said that they plan to finish more than 50 pieces of iron works of different sizes during their stay in China.
Tom is a wood carving master. This is his second visit to the park. He has created many wood art works. The Chieftain Chair he made is quite noticeable at the park’s China-Africa Friendship Museum.
Apart from creating in the park, African artists are often invited elsewhere to help with tourism or exhibition projects featuring African elements. This month Wesely, a 24-year-old Ugandan college student, was invited to complete a wall painting at the Hunan (Gaoqiao) African Commodity Trade Pavilion.
African artists also have exchanges with Hunan’s cultural and art inheritors and other experts in terms of tea art, Hunan embroidery, bee breeding, and rice and fruit planting. They bring Chinese culture and art back to Africa.
In less than a year since its opening, the park has welcomed more than 70,000 visitors. Next, the park will invite more artists from African countries, so as to enable more Hunanese to experience African culture; promote the integration and mutual learning between Hunan culture and African culture; and, build a bridge of friendship and culture between China and Africa.
African artists eat breakfast at a canteen on June 10. After arriving in Changsha, they fell in love with Hunan food and have learned to use chopsticks skillfully.
African artists Jack and Semio paint a giraffe sculpture for an African elements exhibition hall at the Intangible Cultural Heritage Hall in Yuhua District, Changsha on June 12.
Darlin, an African artist of the Hecun African Cultural Park, learns Hunan embroidery at the Shaping Embroidery Museum of Hunan Province on June 13.
Francis(1st L) practices kung fu with a tourist at the Hecun African Cultural Park on June 13.
On June 13, when asked his impression of China, Tom raises his thumb and says, “China is good”.
Artists play African musical instruments for tourists at the Hecun African Cultural Park on June 15.
Brain (R) and Blessious (L) wash animal sculptures at the Hecun African Cultural Park on June 15. There are more than 10 sculptures of representative African animals at the park.
Translator: Kuang Zhenzhen
Chinese source: hunan.voc.com.cn