"The xenophobic events of May were completely regrettable. South Africa is considered the country at the forefront of Africa.
"This was not in the interest of Africa and it sent a bad image to the world," said Democratic Republic of Congo's secretary-general of arts and culture Pierre Kabinda yesterday.
He was speaking at the Mofolo Cultural Bowl in Soweto where 11 African countries showcased their indigenous culture through dance and music. Kabinda said there were 450 ethnic groups in his country and the Ta mawata (cultural blend) group are their main promoters of unity.
Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan said: "This festival in part addresses xenophobia, though that is not what it is about."
More could be done to promote cultural diversity and tolerance, he said. "But symbolic action is not enough; concrete actions actively encouraging cohesion and living together is needed."
Yaw Poku Dankwa, Ghanaian director of special projects in the ministry of chieftaincy and culture, said he saw many similarities in African customs in the different displays, but warned of "African cultural degeneration".
"Strong European culture has polluted us because of technology but we can fight this by having more events where people showcase their culture."