CALGARY—A hot August sun bathed Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park as the 17th annual Afrikadey Festival staged its main event ending a week-long celebration of African culture.
Put on by the Calgary African Festival and Exhibition Society, the festival featured several events throughout the week such as a poetry jam, drum and dance workshops, dance parties, art exhibits and several free concerts.
Saturday’s main festival featured artists from all over Canada and across the globe performing in both traditional and modern African musical styles.
“The goal is to share the African culture. The goal is to promote cultural exchange and the idea is to find a way we can identify ourselves,” said Tunde Dawobu, Afrikadey!’s artistic director.
Dawobu noted that while African music can be considered similar to a combination of many different musical styles such as blues, jazz, hip-hop and reggae, it has a unique difference that places it in its own category.
“The difference is the depth of the music. African music is very deep. You know, [music] is where we go; so when you listen to it, without knowing it you’re moving, because it touches you,” he said.
“The significant thing to Africans is that music is essential. We always say ‘feel the rhythm,’ because everything we do is wrapped around rhythm, heart and beat”
The light-hearted and entertaining events, which brought color, vibrance and the spirit of the African people to various Calgary locations throughout the week, also showed a more serious side of African life and acted as a source of education for Calgarians.
An exclusive screening of Darfur Diaries, an award winning documentary, showed the real-life hardships of refugees struggling to survive in the strife-torn region. The Art of Reconciliation Symposium, hosted by Sudan’s Emmanuel Jal and Rwanda’s Jean Paul Samputu, focused on what it means to live in a war-torn world as a child soldier and refugee.
Dawobu, who anticipates somewhere between two and four thousand people will attend Saturday’s main festival, also explained that the term Afrikadey! has special significance.
“Afrikadey is a kind of broken English that is spoken in West Africa. It’s a phrase like, ‘how are you doing ?’ In Africa they say ‘how you dey?’ And you’d say I do well, I do fine. So what Afrikadey means is Africa is alive, Africa is well and every day is Afrikadey.”