Festival Guide 2010: Africa Oyé

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So you say you want to do something different, experience something new, but do you really? Yes? Then this festival is for you. Africa Oyé is a celebration and exhibition of African music and culture in Sefton Park, Liverpool on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th June, so right at the end of exams for all. It’s FREE and it promises to be a riotous ensemble of colours, sounds, sights and smells that represent the positive side of a continent so vibrant and inspiring.

Taking on the knockers with their negative imagery of war, famine, poverty, disease and corruption, Africa Oyé showcases the very best in African music, food, arts, crafts and fashions. Running since 1992, Africa Oyé is bigger than ever this year and neatly coincides with the 2010 Year of Health and Wellbeing, promoted by Liverpool council, aspects of which will be all around the festival.

Slipping in some South American and Caribbean acts, Africa Oyé features a line-up that includes Boukman Eksperyans from Haiti; Les Espoirs de Coronthie of Guinea Conakry; The Gangbe Brass Band originating in Benin; Ti Coca from Haiti and Victor Deme of Burkina Faso on the Saturday. Sunday sees Jamaica’s Andrew Tosh – son of reggae legend and Wailers core member Peter Tosh; Carlou D of Senegal; Les Freress Guisse also from Senegal; Jamaica’s Michael Rose; The Rasites from the UK and To’Mezclao of Cuba on the bill.

Until Google enlightened me, I hadn’t heard of a single act – even though Boukman Eksperyans were Grammy-nominated – but a trawl through MySpace and YouTube has left me looking forward to hearing the traditional, brass, rock/reggae fusion, hip-hop and blues offered. Add to this the other senses that will be assaulted with arts, crafts, food and fashions and I’m already looking forward to “something different”. After six years studying politics and focussing on sub-Saharan Africa, I’m sick and tired of reading bigoted, uninformed articles emphasisng the negative aspects of a continent that is bursting with diversity, life and has so much to offer the Western world. Maybe you are too? Take a look at the event website for more info.

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