Live music and dance workshops for Habari Africa fest in Canada

The Habari Africa Festival returns to the Canadian city of Toronto to promote African music and culture in the diaspora.

Djely Tapa from Mali will headline this year's Habari Africa Festival in Toronto. Photo:
Djely Tapa from Mali will headline this year's Habari Africa Festival in Toronto. Photo:

Hosted by the Batuki Music Society, the free annual festival takes place from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 August at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

The multi-disciplinary music and arts celebration kicks off on Friday with musical entertainment from Mali-born, Canada-based artist Djely Tapa, who aims to perpetuate the griot tradition inherited from her family. Her music is a rhythmic blend of traditional and modern sounds and her lyrics reflect the daily reality of each individual, from gender identity issues to social status and age.

This will be followed by veteran Congolese group Cour des Grands, who will honour influential African musicians Tabu Ley Rochereau and Papa Wemba alongside guest Congolese vocalist Blandine Mbiya.


Saturday will be packed full of musical entertainment from 2pm until late. Taking to the stage will be Mali’s Abdoulaye Diabaté and his Burkina Faso-based group Younkouna, Carine Au Micro (Benin) and Ethiopian talent in the form of Genene Haile and The Azmaris featuring Abebe Fikade and Eyerusalem Duble.

Earlier in the day there will be a performance by the Akwaba Cultural Group, which was founded by Jean Assamoa in 2008 with the aim to promote knowledge and awareness of traditional African dance and rhythms and a sense of identity for Canadians of African descent. There will also be a 'Hip-Hop Slam' with Rasselas Asfaw and Ebedoz Über, where East Africa meets West Africa in a face-off between two of Toronto's rising rappers.

The festival ends on Sunday with performances by Haitian-born Dieufaite Charles, aka Jahfaa; local band Mafattet, led by Fatha Ma from Lesotho; Jean Fojeba from Cameroon and his Sunshine Band; as well as locally-based highlife and palmwine band Afrafranto Muziq.

Besides this great live music on offer, festival goers will have access to a variety of interesting workshops, covering for example Griot Voices, Senegalese Sabar, Eskista Dance  from Ethiopia, Kuduro from Angola, Lanaya dance from West Africa (with Mabinty Sylla), Djembe drumming (with Amadou Kienou) and South African pantsula dancing (with Salomao Almirante). On top of this there will also be Afrocentric fashion, food, dance, film, panel discussions, literary and visual arts, kids fun and plenty more.

Last year’s edition of Habari Africa hosted Grammy-nominated Ghanaian reggae star Rocky Dawuni, Awa Sangho from Mali and South African hitmakers Mi Casa, among others.

For more details visit the Habari Africa website.


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