The Saturday of this year’s Africa Oye Festival was the busiest day we’ve ever had in Sefton Park. The outpouring of love during the weekend and in these last few days from the audience and from those who performed has been unbelievable.
We feel like we’re still on cloud nine and are so grateful to everyone who made this happen.
Local communities have always been the heartbeat of Africa Oye and we’ve always tried to put on different kinds of music to attract those from every walk of life.
For example, we used to find many in the black community just weren’t engaging with the festival, so we started to book some big reggae acts. Then we booked Finley Quaye one year, which raised a few eyebrows, but he brought a whole new audience again who would never have given the music of Africa and the Diaspora a chance otherwise. Once people come to the festival once they tend to come back again and again so it’s just about that awareness raising.
Every year I get an even bigger sense of what Oye means to the city and its people. Those who came to Oye as kids and are now attending with their own; there’s a legacy and love that Oye has in this city that is hard to put in to words.
For one weekend there is an amnesty on religious beliefs, political beliefs, whatever it is that divides us. Everyone comes together to enjoy the weekend and forget about the troubles of the world and have a good time.
Over the last 15 years myself and my core team have had the chance to travel across Europe and further afield, whilst working with the British Council. We’ve been involved in developing and mentoring young musicians and artists and event staff; we’ve attended numerous industry events as guest speakers, panelists and networking hosts at events. As well as giving something back to the industry we have been able to spread Oye’s brand throughout the world and talk about how the city of Liverpool is such a great destination to visit.
Liverpool has an abundance of great festivals throughout the calendar year now, much to the envy of many other cities in the UK.
There are less free festivals than there were due to funding issues and it gets harder and harder to keep this one free — it’s why the funding we get from Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council is vital and why we appeal to the public to help support us by donating via PayPal from the africaoye.com homepage. If everyone who attends each year just donates a small amount it’ll help us keep it free for years to come.