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London Celebrates African Diversity

Britain's capital hosted a weekend celebrating Africa and its diversity, as well as the 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence.

The sounds of Africa in Central London. In the shadow of Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square, a festival celebrating the continent.

Along with the music and native dancing, African art and fashion are on display. And it is not just the sounds and sights of Africa, but the tastes as well, Adwoa Hagen-Mensah says the food of her home country is a hit.

"We are serving different stews from Ghana, we are serving, spinach melon seeds and mushroom, which is a vegetarian dish, chicken and peanut, jollof fries, just lots of lovely stuff," said Hagen-Mensah.

This celebration is London's third tribute to Africa - there were Africa days in 2006 and 2007 - this time the celebration went on all weekend.

Africa analyst Tom Porteous says those links began when Britain colonized Africa.

"Britain gave up its colonial possessions in Africa from the late '50s to the mid '60s, but it still has important commercial, strategic and now cultural ties with Africa," he said.

Mike Abiola edits a newspaper for Africans printed here in Britain.

"We have the high populations of Africans living in the U.K., it is the highest concentration of Africans in Europe, living in London, the capital of the United Kingdom," said Abiola.

You did not have to be African to enjoy the festival, which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence. While there was lots on offer here, it was the music that was the centerpiece.

"Can't you see it? Can't you see the vibration? Oh yes we are enjoying today," sang Joy Rechukwu.

"It's been really good, I love all the live music and everything, the way they get the crowd going," said Malaika Obonyo.

Zimbabwean musician Kudaushe Matimba is with the band Harare. He has not been home in more than a decade for political reasons. He says playing his native sounds here helps him share his culture and deepen his African roots

"This is what keeps me close to home, playing music. You know this is what keeps me whole, this is what keeps me Zimbabwean," said Maimba.

Londoners did not have to go to Africa to see and taste the continent. For a short while it came here to them.