Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sounds of Africa; Wake Up and Waka Waka - Africa Is Taking over the North East and, as Barbara Hodgson Reports, This Is No Time to Be Snoozin'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sounds of Africa; Wake Up and Waka Waka - Africa Is Taking over the North East and, as Barbara Hodgson Reports, This Is No Time to Be Snoozin'

Article excerpt

Waka Waka - in case you're wondering - means "just do it!" and the phrase, widely used in several parts of Africa, is being adopted as the motto of a new organisation set up to celebrate African culture.

With its official launch in Newcastle this May, Waka Waka Africa North East is out to make a noise about music, dance, literature, visual arts, film and drama and everyone's invited to join the party.

The celebration of African culture and heritage is first and foremost about catering for those of Afro-Caribbean descent in the region, whether settled residents or asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

And it promises to be a learning curve for all those who are interested in exploring the vibrant culture. Before the party's even started there are plans for its future with hopes of an annual festival, regular music performances, opportunities for local bands, youth involvement and a range of collaborations such as forging links with local museums, galleries and libraries.

The initial idea for a festival came from last October's Black History Month when a Waka Waka Africa night at Newcastle Arts Centre attracted 130 people who were keen to see more events of its kind.

And the result - an umbrella organisation to bring movers and shakers together - comes courtesy of its organisers and co-funders: local councillor David Faulkner, and Maurice Dezou, a musician with band Roots Melody and project worker at Tees Valley Arts who set up Middlesbrough's WorldFest.

It features an artist-led steering group, including poet and storyteller Ah'freee (also known as aka Radikal Queen); music producer Michael Andisen; printmaker and performance artist Yilis del Carmen Suriel; and musician Hannabiell Sanders, winner of the performing artist of the year category at The Journal Culture Awards in April, where other winners to reflect the diversity of the region's culture were Africa Express and John Kefala-Kerr. …

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