Monday, July 12, 2010

AfroFest Toronto: Beautiful People, Beautiful City

After the madness of the G-20 summit, it was nice to see Toronto looking and feeling back to normal, and celebrating one of many cultures in the city at the 22nd anniversary edition of AfroFest at Queen's Park on July 10 and 11, 2010.

Presented by Music Africa, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes African music and culture, AfroFest is the largest African music celebration in North America.

The weekend features a marketplace for arts, crafts, jewelry, clothing, books, and other items, along with a variety of African and Caribbean cuisine, concerts, dancing, drumming, and rides and activities for children.

Kya Publishing was there for the second year, featuring my book collection the "Urban Toronto Tales" (pictured below). There are so many African-Canadian writers, poets, and artists who also have stories to share, and voices to be heard; AfroFest provides a great platform for this type of networking.

The beauty of the AfroFest is that small business owners, entrepreneurs, artists, and restaurants all have a venue to display their hard work, and share their passion and culture with the African community, as well as the Toronto community at large.

As Toronto Mayor David Miller said in his message to the festival, "Events like these are an integral part of our city's culture growth and are essential to the enjoyment and liveability of Toronto." Sponsored by Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, and Canadian Heritage, the event is well-organized, and the positive energy and musical upliftment has a strong effect on all who come out, as witnessed by the yearly increase of attendees.

The main stage featured ongoing performances by artists like Masaisai (Zimbabwe), Doody le Tigre (Haiti), Nati Haile (Ethiopia), and Muna Mingole (Cameroon). Canadian artists Kaysha Lee, Humble, Chris Rouse, and others performed on the Baobab Stage, hosted by Hajile Kalaike aka Lotus. The Drum Stage featured the Shangaza Performers from Uganda, Sani-Abu & ijo vudu from Nigeria, and DJ music sets by DJ Biggy, along with others.

The excitement was the ongoing, the laneways were busy, and only got busier as night fell, the crowd was peaceful and supportive, and variation of music and entertainment provided the perfect backdrop to the activities throughout the weekend.

The AfroFest, also titled the official headquarters of Toronto's African World Cup Party, had a special area to watch the final match of the World Cup, celebrating the first FIFA World Cup to take place in Africa. Hundreds of fans had the opportunity to watch Spain's victory, on the lawn of Queen's Park where the game was featured on a large screen.

There is nothing like summer in Toronto, where the activities are ongoing, and for no fee at all individuals, families, and participants of all ages can find entertainment and opportunity to be out in the community and celebrate all that is wonderful about this city.

AfroFest is just one of many festivals and events that make Toronto a great place to live, and remind the city of the beautiful and creative people that make it unique. Our strength is in our culture, and the beauty of our strength is evident when we all learn, and grow from experiencing elements of each other's heritage.