Afrofest 2016 – Toronto, Canada, was infused with a rich dose of African music, cuisine, culture and so much more over the weekend. African music stars from all over the world’s second largest continent, home to 63 countries and territories, converged for the epic event.
Afrofest 2016 was organized by Music Africa, a non-profit organization with the sole purpose of promoting African music and culture. The event traditionally features dance, workshops, theatre, poetry, delicious food and other activities which cater to youth and children. The event also showcased workshops, dance groups, dance competition, children’s village and market place with over 70 vendors. Afrofest is traditionally comprises the main stage, which attracts a bigger audience, and the Baobab stage, which is popular among the young crowd.
The event was hosted by iconic MC Bonde of Toronto’s G98.7fm, MC Ebone. Performing artistes at the 2 day event includes: Ijo Vudu (Nigeria), Blackstars Dancers (Ghana), Natie Haile (Ethiopia), Black Parents (Haiti), Moto Tia (Congo), Ozee B & Success K (Nigeria), Staasia Daniels (Jamaica), Emmanuel Jal (Sudan), Madagascar Slim (Madagascar), BKO Quintet (Mali), Lynda Thalie (Algeria), Everything Oshaun (Nigeria/Jamaica), Jean Asamoa (Ivory Coast) and many others. Click HERE to view the full list of performers at the event.
With continuous Afrobeat sounds that kept hips steadily swaying, show-goers continued to pour in throughout Saturday and Sunday. At one point during the event, a combination of Ghanaian and Nigerian music played while Cameroon’s Toto Guillaume took over the main stage, bringing the feel-good harmonics of Central Africa.
According to Sani-Abu Mohammed, who is originally from Nigeria and has been performing African dance at the festival for the past six years. It’s the uplifting vibe that keeps him coming back.
“It is a very good atmosphere where we celebrate our culture, happiness, love and respect,” said Mohammad, who came to Canada in 2005 via the United States and is a member of the Ijovudu Dance troupe.
“Thank you to the city for allowing us to do this. I pray it’s like that every year. If the festival goes, there would be nothing for the African community in the city, because this is real African and not just Caribbean culture we are celebrating.”
While speaking on CBC News on Sunday, Michael Stohr, one of the co-founders of Music Africa, which organizes Afrofest, has these to say:
“It’s the most significant gathering place for an African community that has grown massively over the last 28 years Afrofest has been in existence,” Michael Stohr,.
“There were 2,000 people at our very first Afrofest,” Stohr said, adding that about 100,000 people were expected to attend the event over the weekend.
“That’s testament to the incredible growth of the African community here,” he said.
President of Music Africa, Peter Toh, said 35 artists from all over Africa and Toronto performed at this year’s Afrofest.
“The event has been a massive success,” he said, crediting “the power of social media.”
In the year 2000, Afrofest expanded its one-day event into a two-day festival, and by the year 2012 the gatherings had grown from 1000 (first event) to 100,000 visitors.
Fast forward to March this year, the city of Toronto made a controversial decision to reduced North America’s largest African music festival to a single day due to noise complaints (actually 8 complaints were received) and alleged curfew violations during the 2015 event. This was eventually overturned after a successful online petition prevented that downsizing.