Africultures Festival 2016 and the undeniable presence of African influences everywhere

Last weekend I attended the Afro Latino Festival for the first time ever, taking 3 of my friends with me.  Amongst the crowds, the music, the heat (it was a very hot day out there in Casula), I heard a young man tell one of the African drummers who was giving an African drumming workshop, “You know why Latin music is so good? Because it’s a mix of indigenous, Spanish and African music”.  And then he sat back in his chair and tapped his drum a few times, as if to reiterate his point.

African drumming at the Afro Latino festival

African drumming at the Afro Latino festival

The dude made a good point.  The meshing of three very distinct cultures gave birth to a brand new style of music – think salsa, samba and rumba.  Where would Latin music be without the African influence?

As luck (immigration, I guess) would have it, African culture is also alive and well in Sydney right now, in 2016, and there has been African immigration to Australia even in the 1960s, when the Australian government, under the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan, allowed students from Commonwealth African countries to move to Australia.  Immigration has risen since the 1990s, and, unless you’ve been living in a particularly caucasian bubble, the past 15 years have also seen an influx of African immigrants.

Passing note – African convicts, or convicts of African descent, where also sent to Australia in the early days of white settlement, when transportation to Australia was part of the sentence.  In a roundabout way, one of African descent was William Blue, who was born in Jamaica (remember, I say “roundabout” way here because I know people of African descent were brought to Jamaica) and tried and convicted in Kent, UK.  His name may seem familiar to you because when his sentence was up, he became quite prominent Sydney, and his name now lives on in Sydney places and streets like Blues Point, Blues Point Road and Billy Blue College of Design.

But I totally digress. Again.  I do that a lot.

What I’m trying to say is that African culture and people of African heritage have been in Australia for yonks, and, in celebration of that, the 2016 Africultures Festival is on again this Saturday, 12th March from 11am to 6pm at Wyatt Park in Lidcombe.

Djebena-Coffee-Africultures-2016-My-Local-World

WHAT IS THE AFRICULTURES FESTIVAL?

Cripes almighty, where to begin!  Africa is a massive continent, people, and, last year, of the 53 recognised sovereign African nations, 38 countries were represented.  Now imagine all of THAT in Sydney, in a festival filled with colour and music and food and just a proper celebration of the African communities and African culture in Sydney.  Here’s an example of the music you’ll get on the day:

That was Lucky Lartey, who has performed both around Australia and internationally.  Last year he performed Jamestown for the Sydney Fringe Festival.

The festival is a true celebration of African music, art, crafts, dance and food, and shared with the wider community.

THINGS TO DO

Like any good festival, there are a million things to do.  Here’s some you can take part in:

  • Head to the stages to enjoy live music and dance.  The Kilimanjaro Stage is the main stage and you’ll be able to get a pretty good sample of African and African-inspired performances from artists, dancers and drummers (like Lucky in the clip above).
  • A festival’s nothing without the food.  The aptly named Nile Food Court brings African cuisine to the wider Australian community.  Try Fair Trade Ethiopian Coffee Tent (Djebena Coffee) and food from Senegal, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, Liberia and the Caribbean.
  • Take part in some African Dance and Drumming Workshops led by musicians and performers from the African community.
  • There is no doubt that African fashion and style is unique and beautiful.  Check out the Fashion Paradewhere anyone can get up on stage and show off their African Fashion wear and traditional dress.

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  • What can I say, the African Market Place kinda seems like a pretty good area of the festival to check out.  You’ll find over 45 commercial and information stalls selling African products such as clothing, fabrics, homewares, jewellery and accessories.

PERFORMANCES

Obviously there will be a wonderful array of performances on the day.  Here’s a few you can check out:

Samrawit: Dancing a medley of Ethiopian cultural dances and traditional customs, Samrawit showcase some of the most beautiful cultural backgrounds that make up Ethiopia.

Simba Mushete & the Echoes of African Music: With Simba Mushete, the Echoes of Africa play Chogiyo music from Zimbabwe, which include playing traditional instruments like the Mbira (hand piano), ngoma (traditional drum, Hosho (shakers) and marimba (xylophone).

Karifi Ensemble: I saw these guys perform at the Afro Latino festival and they were, putting it mildly, awesome :)  They play their own flavour of African drumming and dances, accompanied by chanting and singing.  They say it’s “a rhythm to sooth the soul, a chant to massage the body”. Also, they are hugely charismatic and great storytellers.

karifi from Karifi Ensemble on Vimeo.

 

The Africultures festival is a great way to experience African culture and to get to know the African community in Australia.  According to event organisers, “Western Sydney is a place where cultural diversity is renowned and embraced, and the AFRICULTURES FESTIVAL is a shining example of an event where people from many different cultures and places come together as one to take pride in their traditional backgrounds and celebrate their diversity”.

Can’t argue with that.

HOW TO GET THERE

Prob best to take public transport, but Wyatt Park (3-5min walk from Lidcombe Station) is easily accessible by train and bus from all areas of Sydney. Check online for best route. The park is easily accessible for parents with prams, seniors & people in wheel chairs. ATMs are available on site.

Images are my own or taken from Africultures event organisers.  Clips from performer’s pages or links from performer’s pages. 

Comments:

  1. Oh wow! This looks like it would be such a wonderful day out! Pity I live in Melbourne :) I love the look of your blog (I will be browsing some more!) and I think it’s so important what you’re doing here, helping to get a louder voice for multiculturalism. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this. Keep doing what you love :)

    xx

    • Thanks Millicent for your kind words – it’s great to get words of encouragement from writers in the blogosphere :) Melbourne is jam-packed with all sorts of people from all over the world, you’ve prob hit some great days out in Melbourne too! I’d love to hear about them and maybe we can show readers here what Melbourne’s like in that respect! xx

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