Rain puts dampener on African festival

Yoruba festival a flop

The Festival of Yoruba Arts, which promised to be a colourful splash of live music and dancing, was called off halfway through – because of the splashing of rain.

Around 200 people found shelter under a lone tree in the field, leaving just a handful of people hiding under their brollies to enjoy the acrobatic skills and musical talents of The London School of Capoiera.

Ayan and the Oduduwa talking Bata drummers and Ewi poetry performance artist Michael Falola also managed to perform on stage, before the sound system went down mid-afternoon.

Jacqueline Adewunmi, a 45-year old barrister who sold her car to part-finance the festival, decided to call it a day and called off the festival.

But not before the London Lucumi Choir insisted on carrying on with their Cuban singing act, acoustic-style on the field.

The free festival had aimed to bring together the estimated 30,000 people of Yoruba origin living in London and to introduce their traditions to a wider audience.

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Yoruba were mass transported from West Africa as slaves, and their culture has spread around the world – inspiring Cuban salsa, American blues and Brazilian capoiera.

Although Jacqueline admits the festival was a bit of a flop this year, she hopes the festival will become an annual fixture and has already booked up a date for next July, which she hopes will be a better month for sunshine than August.

“The rain just spoilt everything for us, and the sad thing for me was everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves,” said Jacqueline.

“But we were disheartened and had to call it off – people would come in their dry clothes and then it would rain and they would say, “I have got to go,” she lamented.

“At least we got somewhere in reaching out to people, and they were saying, “This is our festival, it’s for us, next year we have to be here,” and I thought that was it – we have established something for a community of people who don’t feel they are represented.”