Africa Oyé Descends On Liverpool for 21st Anniversary

For yet another year, Liverpool (UK) was abuzz with the sound, food and culture of Africa last weekend. The multicultural city sure showed the world why it is called as such. Liverpool gave the people a well staged and highly powered event featuring onstage, African acts from various countries and at the stalls, several mouth watering food items.

Multicultural: Africa Oye

Multicultural: Africa Oye

The free event which was held in Liverpool’s Sefton park boasted of a line up of enthralling performers and great vocalists. It was held between Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June 2013. The line up for the first day included, Zong Zing All Stars (DR Congo), Brazil themed Movema World Dance crew, JAY (Cape Verde), Black Prophet (Ghana), Son Yambu (Cuba) and Osibisa (Ghana). On Sunday, the acts that were featured are, JAY, Beatlife Drum Troupe, Yaaba Funk (Ghana/UK), Atongo Zimba (Ghana), Dele Sosimi (Nigeria/UK) and Mokoomba (Zimbabwe).

Highlife Experience: Yaaba Funk

Highlife Experience: Yaaba Funk

DiaspoRAW.net managed to attend day 2 of the event and captured some of the flavour and of course, sampled some the dishes. We arrived just as Yaaba Funk had begun performing. What we saw on stage kind of looked like Fella’s resurrection performance, albeit, with a more colourful band than the late Nigerian icon’s own. Yaaba frontman’s performance was electric, as he belted out some highlife tunes from past, present and future albums. Like Fela, Yaaba Funk played a number of political and social commentary songs. Yaaba’s synergy on stage with his co-lead singer, Helen McDonald was from out of this world. She gyrated her waistline as she played a percussion instrument and provided strong vocal support. Their band was unbelievable, with strong trumpeters and guitarists who showed their prowess and grasp of Afrobeats through a jazzy vibe that got the crowds moving constantly all through the set.

Edu-taining: Atongo Zimba

Edu-taining: Atongo Zimba

Ghanaian griot Atongo Zimba followed on, after a short break, following Yaaba Funk’s performance. The crowd was spoiled with a slightly calmer but compelling set which was backed by a 4-member instrumental band, as Atongo played an African guitar and treated them with jokes and stories in-between songs. The flawless band engaged the crowd with the catchy grooves that it played as the lead singer cooled the sound with his vocals.

Engaging: Dele Sosimi

Engaging: Dele Sosimi

More electricity was brought about later on by the Nigeria/UK musician Dele Sosimi. Sosimi brought his collective along, trumpeters, drummers and guitarists. His entrance was amazing. Dancing, playing the keyboard and conducting. He brought the crowd into a frenzy before going forward to sing for them. He moved his giant figure along the stage and made sure his presence was felt as his African dancing queen cum backing vocalist brought brightness to the scene. This time, the crowd was getting more and more vibed up. Individuals who had been camping in their tents came out to join in the party. Dele’s outstanding costume and stage demeanour certainly made him one of the crowd’s favourite for the day. He made it look easy and showed the crowd why he once was one of Fela’s associates. Unsurprisingly, the Nigerian flag could be seen waving in the crowd during the performance.

Kids Fun: Africa Oye

Kids Fun: Africa Oye

There were various entertainment activities at the stalls, including dance sessions and on and off side-performance, by the likes of Movema Dance crew who had a dance crew manned tent. They provided a relaxation (yoga) tent and an upbeat (pulsating) dance tent. Food at the stalls ranged from various African/Afro-Caribbean to local dishes. Kids entertainment was also available with jumping castles and severalother items. In the stalls you could also find various merchandise such as T-shirts, African curios and rare tapes and CDs.

Thousands of people from all walks of life thronged the venue to witness the great fete. Small tents were pitched around the ground in typical festival style and individuals could be seen, eating, drinking and making merry. It was a family event, well supported by local officers, emergency services and staff. There were people off all ages in the audience, from toddlers to pensioners, all in prams, standing and in chairs. The sky was largely grey and there were gales of wind blowing but that did not deter the fun.

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