The Millennium Dome may have been built in Greenwich in London, an area that covers the former site of the Royal Observatory, and used as the international basis of time reckoning, but on the evening of 14 October, it was Africa that set the pace under the roof of Britain's much politically and economically controversial millennium symbol.
The international charity, Mercy Ships, in association with Nexus, a fund-raising organisation for charities, staged for the first time a fundraising gala night, sponsored by Trust Telecoms whose "Call Mama" phonecards are quite popular with Africans in London.
A packed multicultural audience revelled in the creations of world-acclaimed designers of African descent. It was a vibrant celebration of African colours and textiles.
On display were creations by Hannah Bondzie Taylor of House of Haabt (representing Ghana), Ade Barkare of Ade Barkare Couture (representing Europe), Oumou Sy Mavros of Ledyi Couture (representing Senegal), Margaret Akanye of Afro Designs and Textiles (representing Nigeria), and Joanna Marcella of the Print House (representing the Carribbean).
Shikisha, a South African Zulu dance group, provided entertainment.
It is quite difficult to reconcile the opulence of the rich North, represented by the Dome (it cost [pound]870m to build), and the precariousness of life in the impoverished South, vividly brought to the audience through a Merry Ships video depicting people ridden with diseases such as cleft lips and palate, cataracts and tumours; malnourished children and war amputees.
Mercy Ships is an international Christian charity which delivers humanitarian aid through a fleet of hospital ships that bring physical and spiritual healing to the poor of the developing world.
Captain Brian Sloan, the PR officer for Merry Ships UK, told the audience: "The work that we do has had a tremendous impact on people. We carry out surgical operations aboard the ships to correct...