The African Festival draws huge crowds in Halifax – Halifax during the four-day celebrations

The African Festival of Music and Arts ended on Sunday after four days of celebration on the Halifax Waterfront.

The festival returned after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

George Mbamalu, the event’s founder and organizer, says thousands of people watched the performances during what he says was the largest turnout to date.

“I’m so excited about[the turnout]and it shows me that people are inclusive and that people look at you for who you are,” he told Global News.

Crowd favorite The Remesha Drum Group, originally from Burundi but currently based in Ottawa, performed on Saturday and Sunday. This is the fifth year the group has performed in Halifax.

Mbamalu says he created the event 13 years ago after noticing a lack of opportunities to celebrate the diversity of African culture in the province. He wanted a platform to showcase the beauty of his homeland.

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The festival showcased the unique cultural heritage and artistic works of people of African descent living in Nova Scotia.

“We never thought it would be like it is today. It was a slow process but now we are very happy where we are.”

Simba Ruto was present on all four days of the festival. Ruto was born and raised in Kenya but has called Nova Scotia home for the past 22 years.

He says it has been “wonderful” to see the community embrace and engage with African culture.

“It feels like I’m welcoming (the community) into my home,” says Ruto.

The festival featured performers from many African countries, including Congolese Afro-fusion band Advocates of Truth, made up of brothers Rajab Ally and Gallyna. Their drummer Andrew Dhames says he has loved the sound of African drums since he was a child and enjoys attending the festival every year.

“It felt like I heard this as a baby or something, and yet I knew I had never heard the music. And since then I’ve followed it with grace or tried to maintain my goal as a white man to play at the level it needs to be played.

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“There’s a healthy amount of Africans in Nova Scotia, and when they draw you into their culture and experience all the richness of it, it’s beautiful,” Dhames said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. The African Festival draws huge crowds in Halifax – Halifax during the four-day celebrations


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