A village of round huts representing 24 nations of sub-Saharan Africa stands on a broad platform erected on stilts above water. A giant model of a banyan tree towers above the platform. Built into the branches of the tree are small huts that make up the pavilion's restaurant. Within the privately sponsored village are caged wild animals, an entertainment area where tribal groups demonstrate their skills and - a less primitive touch - a movie theater. The huts, ancient in design but fashioned of plastics and wood to suggest Africa's modern outlook, display museum collections of folk art and offer for sale African products that range from five-cent postcards to $500 diamonds. In the restaurant, amid weapons, masks and caged birds, waiters in tribal attire serve African dishes modified for the American palate.
The plans must have changed somewhere between the time the guidebook description was written and the pavilion was actually built. While the huts are there, there's no water in sight, and the buildings are definitely not nestled in a banyan tree. (CD #11 Set 55 #8)
As a young prospective customer watches, an announcer tries to interest passersby into paying for admission to the pavilion. Three performers are there as well demonstrating African music. (CD #19 Set 98 #8)
Dancers and Drummers. In the pavilion's open-air entertainment area, tall, graceful Watusi men from Rwanda perform spirited dances and demonstrate their prowess at high jumping. Burundi drummers and West African dancers also perform. (CD #5 Set 20 #17)
Tree-house Restaurant. The multilevel rooms of the tree-house restaurant and bar are reached by a winding staircase that girdles the tree's massive trunk. The restaurant features special delicacies of a number of regions, including chicken, lamb and pork dishes garnished with a peanut sauce.
For many visitors, the true star of the African Pavilion was Suzy, a friendly giraffe who loved to beg for handouts from diners at the Tree House Restaurant. (CD #15 Set 74 #2)