Monday, May 26, 2008

Africa Day and the Roman Bath

This afternoon I braved the miserable weather and headed off into central London. First to visit the Roman Bath just off the Strand. It can be found if you head down the road next to the disused Strand Station, Surrey Street, then turn right into the alley where you find this sign:

It's closed off due to construction. Drat. So, back to Trafalgar Square, passing the Savoy Hotel,

fed by the Savoy Court Road, the only road in the UK where legally one must drive on the right hand side (supposedly the law was introduced so that carriage doors would open directly in front of the Savoy Theatre).

Africa Day

Today, to celebrate the global Africa Day, in London there is a festival hosted by the mayor, Boris, celebrating African culture featuring music, food etc.

Unfortunately the weather has been terrible all day, and shows no signs of getting better. Plenty of umbrellas blocking the view, but still a surprising turnout.

It's busy enough that it's easier to watch the big screen than try to get near the stage. When I arrive, Bassekou Kouyate from Mali are up on stage, playing the ngoni, a kind of traditional lute from West Africa.

After some good music, it's time for lunch. There were food stalls around the square, but one was clearly the most popular by far - "Spinach and Agushi", a Ghanaian food outlet.

They had an interesting selection of foods and were friendly and happy to hand out advice, but for a newbie, the obvious choice was the "bit of everything" dish!

A few seconds later, I was handed a tray with a bed of spicy rice, with about four or five curries on top, including a creamy pap-like chicken one, spinach, lamb and other tasty things, with a healthy dollop of chilli sauce at the edge (really spicy, it actually hurt when I had some!), and some chopped carrots sprinkled on top.

Whilst eating this, I watch the last of the music, including the fabulous Manu Dibango from Cameroon, headlining the acts (and replacing Les Amazones de Guinée who could not get visas). What a wonderful end to a very horrible day!

All in, musical performances include: Manu Debango, Bassekou Kouyate, Kanda Bongo Man, Busi Ncube, Emmanuel Jal, Inemo Afrobeat Experience, Kaago Drummers, Black Eagles Dancers with DJ Rita Ray and DJ Eric Soul filling in the gaps. Fantastic and free.. Who'd want to live anywhere in the world but London?!

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