Saturday, June 4, 2011

40th International African Arts Festival

The 40th International African Arts Festival Will Shine Like a Diamond
- - It is said “Everything is downhill at 40;” others know 40 is the diamond that comes from persistent pressure on coal. Like a diamond, IAAF has reached a clarity that ever ascends and not rolls down. From Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 4, 2011, the 40th International African Arts Festival, at Commodore Barry Park in the Ft. Greene section of Brooklyn, showcases Africana in all its diversity. From 10 AM to 10 PM each day, visitors will be fascinated by stilt walkers and African dance troupes; enjoy locticians and ‘poulet grillé’ (grilled chicken); and get deals on home furnishings and medicinal herbs.

This year’s theme Arobaini is Kiswahili for “40”. Taiwo Duvall’s playful mural, Slammin’ graces this year’s banner, website and postcards. The four-day celebration is dedicated to the legacies of Nana Okomfohene Opare Dinizulu, African culturalist & martial artist Baba Ishangi, and African folklorist & percussionist Chief Bey. The Festival’s cultural mixture of music and dance will have something for everyone. On opening day, Friday, July 1, the Festival will begin with the pouring of libation that pays tribute to our ancestors. Later that day, singer & record producer Colonel Abrams gets the crowd charged with house and club favorites.

Saturday, July 2 features the parade led by the Federation of Black Cowboys NYC to the Festival grounds, starting at the corner of Fulton Street and Vanderbilt Avenue. The Culture Community, Struggle Symposium, held across the street at PS 287 and the first day of the fashion show featuring The TBA Clothing Co, Moshood and Tintawi Charaka creations are also scheduled.

Sunday, July 3 the models take to the runway for the second edition of the fashion show. During past festivals the Nana Asuo Gyebi akom, officiated by Nana Akosua Baakan Yirenkyiwa has fascinated visitors. The akom is still to be confirmed.

The festival closes Monday, July 4, 2011 on the usual high note. Tribal Instinct Natural Hair Show stylists accent their coifs with raffia, flowers, and stones. Forces of Nature Dance Co., takes the stage near sunset. Other fine performances during the festival come from salsa wonders Tipica 73 Orquestra and performer/social activist Phyliss Stickney.

There are two performance stages, the African Marketplace, Carib Zone, and Kid Rides Zone. Past festivals featured a shrine for priests of traditional African beliefs. Admission is free; however, three-dollar donations are warmly received.

The festival meets many objectives. It’s a great Meetup Group rendezvous. It’s an exciting yet inexpensive date. The petting zoo gets city kids time with farm animals. Clients will be dazzled and negotiations are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere. With ever-increasing gas prices, the International African Arts Festival is the closest treasure chest worth delving into.

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The festival has grown from a one-day street fair to raise funds for Uhura Sasa, a private, precollegiate school, to a technology-driven extravaganza. Almost 2,000 people came to the event and the fundraiser was a success. That early format of entertainment, food, and market place drew increasing crowds annually and became known as the African Street Carnival. Four years later, the festival moved to the field at Boys and Girls High School where it became the African Street Festival.

Today the festival is known as the International African Arts Festival (IAAF) and has an estimated annual audience of over 75,000. It is still held in Brooklyn but is now in its third transition to a larger venue to accommodate growing audiences. The original line-up of local folk arts entertainment has also remained, but has since been bejeweled with artists such as The Mighty Sparrow, Eddie Palmieri, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, KRS-1, India Arie, and Eric Roberson. The work of dozens of volunteers as security, sanitation, administration and promotion personnel is key to its success. Equally, public and private sponsors feed the festival’s evolution.

Past sponsors include NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Brooklyn Arts Council, Councilmember Charles Barron, Councilmember Letitia James, JPMorganChase, The Network Journal, and Hot 97. For more event details, vending or sponsorship opportunities, call 718 638 6700 or visit

International African Arts Festival
1360 Fulton Street, 5th Fl.
Brooklyn, NY 11216

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