The 7th annual PASSPORT DC was held Saturday May 3, 2014 in the nation’s capital. More than 50 embassies,representing six continents, invited DC visitors and residents to travel the world and enjoy the history, art and culture of many different countries.
More than 30,000 people attended the all-day festivities, according to some estimates. Visitors experienced the country’s food, art, dance and music, including Capoeira demonstrations, Tango lessons, traditional dancers of Botswana, henna applications, Ceylon tea tastings, Thai massages and Dominican rum tastings.
Many of the embassies were located on Massachusetts Avenue, aka historic “Embassy Row” while others at the newer popular International Court.
There were large crowds who stood in lines eagerly waiting to see inside the embassies.
One of the many popular embassies was the newly renovated Embassy of South Africa, featuring the magnificent statue of the beloved Nelson Mandela.More than ten African countries participated in the festival including Guinea, Botswana, Ghana, Gabon, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia. Arab countries included Iraq, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
For the first time, the League of Arab States (Arab League) and the African Union (AU) were part of the of PassportD.C program. Arab League Ambassador Mohammed Al Sharif who represents 22 countries and African Union Ambassador Amina Salim Ali who represents 54 countries brought their family to also enjoy the festivities.
These important institutions, located at the Embassy Row Hotel, showcased their exhibits with country flags, maps, art works, colorful photos, traditional dress, videos, music, delicious sweets, flyers and promotional materials.
Emcee/Stage Manager, Wuiping Yap kept the crowds cheering throughout the day while offering a multitude of diverse performers, including an African Fashion show & an Egyptian musical group. Ms. Yap also featured her own teaching & dancing of exotic dances. Ms. Yap, founder of the Asian Heritage Foundation, will open an all-day street festival on Saturday, May 17.
The Delegation of the African Union Mission Ambassador to Washington, DC, Amina Salim Ali, said PassportDC offers a platform needed to promote the continent’s cultural diversity in the nations’capital, a top priority of her mission here.
*Ben Bangoura is Editor of AlloConakry
and contributing writer Panafricanvisions