By Skye Anderson
CALGARY — Now in its 24th year, Afrikadey! returns to Prince’s Island Park and once again offers Calgarians an opportunity to explore and immerse themselves in African culture. With its emphasis on open-mindedness and connectedness, the festival aims to reveal similarities between cultures through the magical language of art and music. Artistic director Tunde Dawodu created Afrikadey! Arts and Cultural Society, which continues to celebrate diversity and strives to eliminate cross-cultural boundaries.
“We want to create a forum where we can learn from each other, so we can grow together,” Dawodu says of the festival.
Adhering to the festival’s motto, Dawodu encourages festival-goers to dive beneath the surface of music, and find the familiarity that connects us all.
“We call it music for discovery, purposely. Some of the acts that come in are not your household names; what they are doing is very deep. So we want people to come and discover the depth of world music.”
The main festival event takes place on August 8th at Prince’s Island Park. This year, one of the international headliners includes Ghana-born artist Rocky Dawuni.
“He is an African who combines reggae with Afrobeat music,” Dawodu says. “His music is full of interesting messages.”
Nigerian singer-songwriter Sonia Aimy will be performing twice on August 5th; she is renown world-wide for her “Afrojazz and folk.”
Nike Okundaye, aka ‘Mama Nike’, is a celebrated Batik artist and will be conducting two weaving and tie-dye workshops. She will be sharing ways to create colourful and traditional fashion through her special techniques.
In true celebration of African culture, Bata Osun, fourth generation Yoruba drummers will also perform. They will be energizing the stage twice on Friday, August 7th sharing their Nigerian culture for the second time in Canada.
Dawodu is a strong supporter of local artists and sees the festival as a platform to share their talent. Last June, Groove Theory, a weekly open-mic/jam at the Below Deck Tavern, held a songwriting competition and the winners will perform at this year’s festival including UNO Band and The Lost Lemons.
As the number of African immigrants continues to increase in Calgary, Afrikadey! is also growing, fostering positive relationships among the different cultures within the city and encouraging people to participate in cross-cultural experiences.
“You don’t have to be an African to enjoy an African event,” says Dawodu emphasizing the need to find similarities among one another and diminish those things that tend to divide us. “Our support has been from non-Africans over the years and to me that shows a sense of acceptance.”
Whether it’s the art, music, food or beverage, Afrikadey! extends its arm wide-open along with plenty of kid-friendly activities that includes dancing, drumming, face painting and crafts. And each year Dawodu feels a deep sense of accomplishment — seeing people engaged, involved and integrated within the festival’s cultural mix.
“You can’t buy that feeling,” says Dawodu.
Afrikadey! takes place Aug. 5-8. For more, check out their website.AB, Afrikadey!, Afrikadey! 2015, Alberta, Prince's Island Park, world music