Africa Celebrates at World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures

Article excerpt

I was filled with excitement as the plane approached Dakar's Leopold Sedar Senghor airport to land. Nostalgic thoughts consumed my mind because the last festival that 1 attended in Senegal seven years back was the result of my dream of producing a pan-African festival that would celebrate Africa through music. After strenuous efforts, the dream came to fruition in 2004 in the form of the Ebony Festival under the theme, "A Celebration of Africa".

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Since then, Senegal, its culture, the country and people have held a steady place in my heart. Thus, when I received an invitation to attend the third edition of the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures in Dakar, there was no hesitation. I was destined to journey not only for another celebration of Africa, but for a much bigger celebration of the entire black world ... and a celebration it certainly was!

I landed on 10 December 2010, just about two hours prior to the festival's opening ceremony, and made my way through Dakar's chaotic traffic to the venue at the Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium. The place was filled with people from everywhere, and they were in festive spirits! Delegations had come from all over Africa and the world. The celebrations kicked off with a grand, spectacular dance and fireworks that lit up the sky.

Festival host President Abdoulaye Wade spoke about the African renaissance through Africans on the continent and in the diaspora, as well as it being important for the African youth to work, work, and work! His speech was preceded by commentary from the presidents of Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea Bissau. The Haitian musician Wyclef ended the series of speeches by asserting that there was no way he could not accept the invitation to the festival when President Wade had brought 163 Haitian university students to Senegal, offering them free education and residency after the earthquake that devastated their island nation in January 2010.

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The evening ended with incredible performances by Youssou N'dour (Senegal), Ismael Lo (Senegal), Manu Dibango (Cameroon), Toumani Diabate (Mali), Baaba Maal (Senegal), Minyeshu (Ethiopia), Mahotella Queens (South Africa) and Angelique Kidjo (Benin). …