Odunde Street Festival Celebrates African Culture

Jackson Cruit, for GPA -- On Sunday, June 9th the annual Odunde Street Festival kicked off on South Street with a full day of events celebrating authentic African culture in one of Philadelphia’s most historically African-American neighborhoods.The festival began with a gathering at the Schuylkill River, where attendees dressed in traditional African garments offered their prayers and blessings in a ceremonial procession. Next, thousands of individuals returned back to 23rd and South Streets for the start of the street festival designed as a traditional African Market.

Headed by Odunde Inc., a cultural organization aiming to increase cultural enrichment in the African American community, the Odunde festival covered 12-city blocks with over 100 vendors providing food and art from various African nations as well as the Caribbean and Brazil. Attendees enjoyed navigating through the Marketplace and discovering many traditional African items including handmade tribal masks, beads and necklaces. The festival also included two stages of live entertainment, which began in the evening hours. Performances included traditional African dance and musical groups as well as the popular household name “Big Daddy Kane”.

The Odunde festival is the largest African-American street festival in the nation and known around the world as one of the original models for similar African-American festivals that occur around the nation. Each year the festival hosts many internationally known African and Caribbean performers, as well as influential folk artists, dignitaries and cultural leaders within the African-American community.

A native of South Philadelphia, Odunde founder Lois Fernandez launched the festival after traveling throughout Africa and observing similar celebrations. The concept of the festival originated from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa, and celebrates the arrival of another year for African Americans as well as Africanized people around the world. These annual festivities continue to bring African-Americans in Philadelphia and around the nation closer to their native roots by providing locals with a vibrant array of culturally enriched activates and entertainment. A gemstone of Philadelphia’s cultural organizations, Odunde has helped to reconnect countless African-Americans with their heritage, in addition to educating others about traditional African culture.

For more information on the Odunde Street Festival and Odunde Inc. visit their website here: http://odundefestival.org/photos--videos.html

Credit: Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC