Kwame Kwei-Armah in Africa


Dear friends and family,

Please forgive me for invading your festive season but I just want to tell you about the most amazing experience I'm having out here in Senegal.

I'm blessed to be the artistic director of the 3rd world festival of black arts and culture here in Senegal and I just want to say not exclusively of course, but particularly to my friends of African descent that if you have the means please book your tickets and get out here if only for a few days. It is the culmination of all the discussions we have been having about Africa and the Diaspora, it's self image, it's representation in art and academia, and Africa's future of course for most of our lives.

I directed the opening ceremony - cast of a 1000 juxtaposed against a 500 foot screen of 3 d animation that swept through African history from the birth of time to today and then pointed towards the new African renaissance of today and tomorrow. I didn't think the screams of 40,000 people in the Sendgor Stadium and the salutations of Six African presidents could be topped until today when I visited with my family the exhibition on the history of Black music at Douta tech centre of art, followed by the exhibition by MIT and Prof Wague on African science at The Le Meriden hotel, followed by the expo of African inspired architecture at Cices, itself an African inspired conference centre. All of these exhibitions are curated in a most wonderfully 21st century way.

Not to mention the contemporary art, photography and design exhibitions at the 3000 square foot specially converted biscuiterie- critics from the New York times to France's La Tribune are all calling it and the festival world class . The art exhibition features works of Yinka Shonibare, Zac Ove, oh man too many to mention.

Every day all the artist in town in their various disciplines have round tables about the state of their art form and where they need to take it tomorrow and many academic including 200 African American mayors and congress people and senators gather to discuss the big issues facing Africa and it's children world wide.

I want to go on but I simply end by mentioning the 3hr performance by Wyclef, the magnificent performance of the Brazilian Monchaca, Baaba Maal's amazing performance at the opening ceremony- Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke's great night of Jazz, Carleton’s night for the bashment posse- George Momboye's brilliant contemporary dance performance at the artistic directors night yesterday evening. Up coming Chiek Lo, Busta Rhymes, Acts from South Africa, Haiti, Nigeria, Martinique, oh man all over the diaspora. Artist from all over the world are spontaneously setting up stages and performing on street corners. On is happening outside my apartment this minute.

It took 33 years to get this festival on it's feet since the last FESTAC in Nigeria in 77 but it is the greatest thing I have been part of in my life, and although it has been so hard to set this ship a sail and taken most of my life force and yes there are still holes in many places it would be remiss of me not to inform you of this historic event and to say if you can get here, please do. It ends on December 31st. So you have two weeks!

Nuff love


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Awe-inspiring ship

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