My longest and most pressing dream is to travel Africa. I don’t go a day without imagining what I would see, what I’d eat, who I would speak to, dance with and every wonder I could experience on my continent of richness.
The other day, lusting at festival calendars in Southern Africa and thinking about the music and cultural festivals I want to attend this year – like Afrika Burn, Oppikoppi festival, The Cape Town Jazz Festival, Bushfire festival, Lake of the Stars – I started to cast my mind to the festivals that happen across the continent.
So, as one does, I got lost on the interwebs and lived vicariously through google, blogs, flickr, and everyone else’s experience of these festival.
Hours of clicking, mouth agape, eyes widening, hope fluttering I was inconsolably enveloped by wanderlust. I may not be able to afford to go to all these places right now, but why not experience them anyway? Then the idea of sharing some of these festivals here, as a way of putting it out into the world, was birthed.
So every month, I will post some interesting festival guides and we can live vicariously through the internet together, until one day it is possible for me to attend all the wonders and give you first hand accounts. Or maybe you’ll go, and tell me all about them Welcome to Wanderlust Afrique, February 2014 edition.
1. Sauti Za Busara – Tanzania – 13 – 16 February
Music festival that takes place annually in February on the streets of one the world’s oldest cities; Stone Town, Zanzibar. In Swahili, “sauti za busara” means “sounds of wisdom”. Outside of the live African music element from various artists, there are street parades, fashion shows, artists exhibitions, open air cinema and of course all the other amazing tourist things you can do in Zanzibar, including swimming with dolphins. The festival celebrates its eleventh year in existence and it enjoys the prestige of having been listed as part of Top 25 best festivals. They say it is the “friendliest festival on the planet” – which is believable from my of experience of East African people being kind, soft spoken, welcoming and so full of life. I imagine you’d experience an explosion of cultural celebration through music and other activities, also, Zanzibar is just beautiful, magical and rich in history
2. Up the Creek – Western Cape, South Africa – 30 Jan – 2 Feb 2014
I’ve never even imagined a water festival. From what I can tell, festival goers float about on a river and watch live bands on different stages, under the sky. I wonder if it as crazy as that sounds. Anyway, there’s comedy and music, over four days, three stages and probably a lot of sunburn. The uniqueness of this festival is that it is about the river. One of the stages is basically a floating device, the bar and some food stalls (amazing) and with that, there would obviously be a competition for the most creative floating device you can put together – if you so wish. This year’s line-up has about 30 artists from rock, to trance, to hip hop and more. When you’re done being a water baby, camp sites available to dry out and rest. So, float on to Breede River, Swellendam and splash away the weekend with laughs and music in a laid-back, no frills, no VIP setting.
3. Festival on the Niger – Segou, Mali – 5 – 9 Feb 2014
Festival on the Niger is a traditional and contemporary live music event that takes place in Mali city of Segou, with a stage set up just on the shore of the Niger River. It’s a three day festival that is not only nightly music concerts, but also day time activities including showcases of traditional arts and crafts, there are also theatre performances and film screenings. Each year there is a festival theme that will be focus of the conferences, exhibitions and performances and this year’s is “Cultural Diversity and National Unity”. The festival was started as a way to celebrate the richness of cultural and creative expression in Mali and the region.
4. Eyo Festival – Lagos, Nigeria
This is one of the most confusing festivals I’ve come across. A few years ago, I visited Lagos and the streets of Victoria Island had remnants of some sort of street bash, and the driver who had picked me up from the airport tried to explain it to me and I just couldn’t comprehend how it worked and what was happening, but interested nonetheless to find out. And so I read, that this is a Yoruba traditional festival where masqueraded dancers come out to the streets in a somewhat Carnival manner and a manifestation of traditional spirits. I’d seen a statue that had been wrapped in white sheets and all sorts of stick embellishments, and this is how the dancers also dress. It is said that what Samba is to Brazil the Eyo is to Lagos. The fanfare and processions are open to tourists on one of the days. I think this one has to be seen to be fully understood.
There is no set date for the festival, but found somewhere it would take place in the first week of February this year. Do correct me if I’m wrong
“A full week before the festival (always a Sunday), the ‘senior’ eyo group, the Adimu (identified by a black broad-rimmed hat), goes public with a staff (“when this happens nothing on earth can stop the festival from taking place the coming Saturday”). Each of the four other ‘important’ ones—Laba (Red), Oniko (yellow), Ologede (Green), Agere (Purple)— in this very order takes their turns from Monday to Thursday without fail. This strictness with cadre and other old established rules before, during and after the celebration is what perhaps appeals the most about the eyo heritage. “
That’s it for now.
SOME OTHER EVENTS IN FEBRUARY, closer to home: