German festival to welcome top talent from Africa and Cuba

Considered Europe’s largest and oldest festival for African music and culture, the International Africa Festival returns to Würzburg, Germany from 26 to 29 May.

Nigerian singer Nneka will perform in Würzburg, Germany. Photo: Bushqueen Egbuna Schuhmacher /
Nigerian singer Nneka will perform in Würzburg, Germany. Photo: Bushqueen Egbuna Schuhmacher /

The International Africa Festival started back in 1989. Since then more than 6250 musicians and artists from 56 countries in Africa and the Caribbean have performed in Würzburg to over two million visitors, who have have heard, seen and tasted the cultural wealth of the African continent. Last year’s edition was by all accounts another great success.

This year’s festival kicks off on Thursday 26 May with Congolese guitarist Olivier Tshimanga, an exceptional guitar virtuoso who has already played with the greatest of the African music scene. Today as a solo performer accompanied by excellent musicians he puts on a colourful show. Also performing on the opening day will be South African singer-songwriter Lebo Masemola, who was born in the small town of Marishane in Limpopo and moved to Europe when she was 17. She quickly found her feet in Hamburg, Germany and broke into the local music scene there. She’ll be presenting songs from her new album, Sister Gwen

At night, attention will turn from the open stage to the festival circus tent, where the legendary Hugh Masekela and exciting crossover act Hot Water, both from South Africa, will continue the festivities.

On Friday 27 May, Africa Festival’s stage welcomes Karyna Gomes, was born in Guinea-Bissau to a father from Guinea and a mother from Cape Verde. It will be the first time that the Africa Festival features a group from Guinea-Bissau. Also performing on Friday is Cameroonian singer singer Valérie Ekoumè, a popular session artist in Paris who will perform for the first time at the Africa Festival, singing tracks her recent solo album Djaale. Friday will also see Leni Stern’s African Trio take to the stage. When the German jazz and blues guitarist first performed at the Festival au Desert in Mali, she was inspired by the country’s music and its people. In Würzburg she will perform alongside Malian musicians Mamadou Ba (bass) and Alioune Faye (percussion). 

On Friday night it will be the turn of Lura from Cape Verde, who will also perform at Azgo in Mozambique later in May, as well as Cuba Vista & Friends from Cuba.

Saturday 28 May will see well-travelled Nigerian songbird Nneka return to Würzburg seven years after her first performance. She released her latest album My Fairy Tales late last year and recently headlined Afropolitan Vibes in Lagos. Also performing during the day on Saturday will be German reggae act Jahcoustix and young Caribbean singer Ami, daughter of renowned jazz and reggae artist Wally Warning from Aruba. On stage on Saturday night will be French-based Congolose artist Lokua Kanza and Ivorian reggae legend Tiken Jah Fakoly.

Sunday’s focus on Cuban music will see Osain Del Monte, La Dame Blanche and Zulemax take to the stage during the day, ahead of nocturnal entertainment provided by the Cuban Beats All Stars and Raul Paz.

Besides the music on offer, this year’s International Africa Festival also boasts Cuba-focused photo exhibition and film screenings, late night dance parties at Club Havana, a fashion show, a children’s programme, a craft market and a special ‘Schools Against Racism’ programme.

Full four-day festival passes are already sold out, but single-day tickets can be ordered online for €32 or will cost €38 at the festival box office (subject to availability). Kids under 12 get in for free. For more details visit the festival website and watch the video below



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