Every summer a celebration of the African Culture is held in Toronto. A park is assigned and people with a little African in them ,including those who claim the teeniest bit from 1.8 million years ago, gather to purchase merchandise, eat gobs of mostly Caribbean food, look upon one another with interest and listen to a list of carefully chosen artists from the Continent and the diaspora.
Without a single doubt, I’m a fan of AfroFest. When I have had the chance to go, I’ll don my best “Jambo means Hello” clothing and mingle with my brothers and sisters in the park. I collected a few fliers and cards from Artists and community organizers who are doing amazing things and was able to take a few pictures of the beautiful creativity expressed by the way people wear their hair. The children were delightful, chomping on corn-on-the-cobs, dreadlocks or twists or puffs joyously flying in the air as they played.
No matter how you slice it, AfroFest is fun. But like any good critic, I do have to say I would love to see more. I would love to see countries represented with booths that have tourist information, maps, flags, food, something. I’d love for it to be separated into experiences. To “travel” to West Africa, eat some fufu, watch a Nollywood movie, experience a flight over the Gold Coast, listen to the sounds of a sage whispering the secrets of an Ancient Benin. It would be a joy to experience Egyptian and Libyan and Algerian cuisines, look upon images of the lost libraries of the Universities in Timbuktu, be able to learn how to translate one line of hieroglyphic text. Imagine what a concert with the Royal Drummers of Burundi would be like? Or listening to a musical ensemble with the traditional instruments from Malawi, learn to play the wooden xylophone with the skill of a well trained Ugandan, sing with the South Africans “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika” watch a fashion show that has all the gorgeous dresses from Libya to South Africa,Cape Verde to Madagascar, Casablanca, Sao Tome, and let us not forget our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and everywhere inbetween. Now that would be an AfroFest to draw out every single African from their cushy homes in Toronto to the park!
Africa is a large place, with millions of people who live beautiful, colorful, full lives. I hope someday, others will get to see it.