For many, Africa is a world away. Although home to billions of people and the oldest civilizations in history, many know little about it – and what they know is often inaccurate. To help correct this misunderstanding, the Regina AfroFest is focused on entertaining, educating and inspiring its visitors to reconsider everything they once knew about “The Land of the Upright Man”. Every summer since 2014, Regina’s African-Canadian community has come together to celebrate their vast diversity. Of the 54 countries in Africa – many of which are the size of France – each has their own unique history, culture and tradition. Much like how England and France differ greatly from each other, so too does Cameroon and Zambia. This may seem surprising for many unfamiliar with the continent, but Africa is over three times larger than Canada, and has 36 times the population. Over the past few centuries, African music has become a staple in the West, contributing to everything from blues to hip hop music. Artists from Elvis Presley and The Beatles to Rihanna and Eminem have all influenced by African music. To highlight the incredible talent coming out of their continent, the Regina AfroFest invited artists like South African reggae singer Nkulee Dube, and Guinean performers Cobra du Madingue to perform at the festival. Other local African talent will be showcased too, such as the hip-hop dance group Afro Sepo, and musician Davy Sage.
There are a few new faces in the line-up this year as well, with one performance offering a unique twist to traditional African heritage. A Hoop Dancer from the Kawacatoose Cree Nation, Terrance Littletent, will be teaming up with choreographer Chancz Perry for their joint presentation of “Hip Hop Hoop”. This cross-culture dance is expected to wow audiences alike and unite strangers through the universal language of music. Of all the things happening during the festival, this is one you will not want to miss.
Over a dozen African countries will be featured at this year’s AfroFest, such as Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Liberia. Additional African-inspired talent will also be coming from more Western counties too, such as Cuba and Canada. Besides the music, one of the most impressive spectacles at the AfroFest is the mosaic of food available. Four different food vendors will be at the festival this year, offering a wide variety of food to purchase. One of the most anticipated will be Mr. Spudds Poutinerie, a culinary artist who combines a classic poutine and mouthwatering African flavours. Past years have seen the creation of both spicy and peanut sauce poutines, so there is no telling what they will make this year!
Other food vendors include Roselyn’s Food Services, AfroCanada and Tropikal Treatz. Together they offer a wide variety of dishes, appetizers and snacks such as fried plantains – which are large, sweet bananas – and tropical juices from West and Central Africa. From 12 to 1 p.m., the festival will host a drum workshop, put on by Mohamed Diarra and Boomtown Drums. This hour-long workshop will feature 30 drums and a variety of other Africans instruments that guests will be invited to learn how to play. Beyond the music and food, the festival also has several activities for children to take part in, such as crafts and movies throughout the day. It will also feature a beer garden and marketplace to buy authentic African wares. When the festival started in 2014, it drew in a modest crowd of 800 people. In only a short number of years that number has ballooned to over 2,500. This crowd of people transforms Victoria Park into one of the most happening places in the city, and one of the most unforgettable experiences of the summer.
If you’re interested in attending the festival, tickets are $10 a person, with free admission for kids 12 and under. Tickets for the festival are available either online or at the main entrance and allow all day access to the market, the music, the workshops and the food vendors. The festival runs this year on July 8th from 10 AM to 11 PM, and promises to not only get you dancing, but to connect you to an Africa you never even knew existed. With images provided by the Regina AfroFest.