Desiré Akanni (DA): We came here in the early eighties and when we first arrived, I didn't see any black person. It took me about three months in Port Melbourne before I found the first dark person. It was a lady from Jamaica. The very few African that were here were very well accepted by the Australians.
Mimmie Ngum Chi (MC): Within a few months I got to meet lots of people from the same African continent like Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, lots of people from different countries that if I was in Cameroon or Nigeria or South Africa, I would not have had that interaction.
Paul Osagie (PO): Nigeria is more like a party country as in we love to party all the time, go out at night, go to a neighbour's house. But when I came here it was like you're going to be indoors, don't just go out. So I felt like this looks like I'm coming to a prison, you know.
DA: West Africa were not in this part of the world because a lot of the Australians, when they go to Africa, they either go to East Africa for their safari and all the animals or they go to South Africa.
MC: Cameroon is commonly described as Africa in miniature because Cameroon has got over 300 cultural groups and our official languages is English and French. If you visited ten Cameroonian families you could eat ten different traditional dishes.
PO: But since I've come to Australia I've actually learned more about Africa then while I was in Nigeria. The more people you meet and talk to from different communities, you begin to learn whole new things that you've never heard of before. They open up your mind to a whole new world entirely.
MC: I think it's a good idea to have a West African festival. It is the Australian government are recognising that we now have a significant population of people from this part of the world living in Australia.
PO: If that program wasn't organised, I wouldn't have met people from my own place. When you're here you don't meet people from your own place. You feel bored, you feel lonely, you feel like you start to miss home. I feel more at home. OK, yeah, I have my brother here, I have my sister here.
Hon Nicholas Kotsiras: It is my great pleasure to now officially launch the West African cultural festival and I urge you all to enjoy, participate, live it, and experience what is a wonderful cultural experience here in Victoria. Thank you.