Thousands discovered the culture and heritage of Africa at the 23rd annual Afrofest in Toronto. The sights, sounds, cuisine and upbeat attitudes of the African continent covered the landscape of Queen's Park.
It was reported in March that Toronto’s Park, Forestry and Recreations Department denied Afrofest organizers a special event permit. The department stated that the reason for the rejection was due to various violations that were committed during last year’s festival and years prior.
After much debate, discussion and discourse, Afrofest organizers were approved an event permit and the festival was held for the 23rd year at Queen’s Park.
On Saturday, thousands came out to Queen’s Park to enwrap themselves into the culture, history, heritage, music and food of Africa. Although primarily an event that promotes African music, various vendors were out publicizing African-related music instruments, clothing, jewellery and other items.
“Music Africa has a long–standing record of presenting African musical events, including large–scale concerts and smaller performances at clubs, theatres and other major venues all across the city,” said Afrofest organizers.
“The organization has brought many beloved and internationally recognized African musical acts to the city. Moreover, Music Africa provides a strong platform for emerging artists from the many African communities in the city and elsewhere in Canada. In recent years, the organization has taken the initiative to include more youth-centered African musical forms both at Afrofest and other venues.”
Brian Mason, a vendor that sold a variety of items, told Digital Journal that he was quite concerned that there wouldn’t be Afrofest this year, but noted that he is thrilled that the festival is continuing its annual tradition.
He added that the permit dispute encouraged the festival organizers to put on an even better show than in previous years.
Judging by the reception following the musical performances, Mason could be correct in his assertion. Large crowds gathered, in amazement, around the north main stage area where numerous bands performed classic African dance music.
“I enjoy being part of this,” said Mason. “It gives us the chance to showcase the best of Africa and to provide a brief insight to the average Canadian of what Africa is and what it will always be to its children.”
Afrofest is sponsored by Western Union, Public Mobile, Wind Mobile, Planet Africa Group, CBC, Canadian Heritage, the Ontario Arts Council and others.
The event continues Sunday.