This year, the Afro Street Festival is introducing a few more initiatives in line with it’s vision to
be a leading alternative platform for self experience. One of these is a publication produced by the Creative Hub Port Harcourt for the Afro Street Festival called Sísé Afrika said Owen Shedrack, Publicity & Communications Lead of the Afro Street Festival introducing Sísé Afrika at the African Soirée – annually held private theme unveiling event by the Creative Hub Port Harcourt.
After a break, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Afro street festival is back, bigger and
better. With the city of Port Harcourt giving the green light for festivals and general admission for outdoor events, this year’s street festival promises to be such that has never been held before now.
With several introductions of pre-event activations, there have been improvements. Conquering all obstacles with the pandemic came up with this year’s theme – TENACITY.
The Afro Street Festival is known in Port Harcourt for the spectacle of their dances, the beat of their music, and the beauty of their dazzling costumes, Afrocentric fusion of arts, and fashion. But beyond their appeal as a multisensory display of culture, this festival is also a driver of the economy. Also, pillars that help generate oneness in the community. An added value that every day increases the interest of youths and vendors. It has created a platform for budding talents to be seen, creativity to be expressed and business goals to be met, amongst others notable benefits.
Beyond sequins, music, and invaluable arts, the Afro Street Festival is an expression of the
enormous potential of the creative industries; according to a 2020 publication by the Africa
Report: “With complex value chains threading together multiple service providers, creative industries are a job multiplier and generate $4.2 billion in revenue across the continent. Nollywood generates $600 million annually for the Nigerian economy; employs indirectly more than 1 million people per year and, in 2016, contributed about 1.1% to the country’s GDP.
Those industries are also recession-proof, as they depend on local demand.” When national and local governments bet on and promote festivals, they enhance their role as engines of creativity and innovation. For most of the people of Port Harcourt, the festival is part of cultural display and a significant source of income, especially for the youths and vendors.
“We have to tell our own Stories as through them we express our deepest ethos as a People
and the depth of all we re-imagine” the Convener, Ibinabo Amakiri shares her thoughts about the Afro Street festival.
Barrister Ibinabo Amakiri is committed to keeping the Afro street Festival alive, contributing to its enduring success and appeal to local and foreign visitors.
Numbers to celebrate
The street festival is not just a day event or a business: it is a way of life. Even before the event kicks off, the festival generates thousands of temporary and permanent
jobs for local artisans, musicians, costume makers, and choreographers. In the first two editions, more than 50 musicians and 93 vendors were part of the events.
During the last quarter of the year, for a day, the Afro Street festival organizes a street parade,
music, arts, and fashion parties, covering 30% of the city’s hotel occupancy. These generate
profits and benefits sectors as diverse as food, retail, and tourism. These figures are part of a
broader trend. Beyond its economic importance, the festival also has an impact on the youths. It is not just a party and music. It is a tool for social impact and artistic promotion.
“We work with young people to transmit our values and cultural manifestations, teaching them to appreciate the African root and indigenous rhythms.” said Ibinabo Amakiri, Convener and founder of the Creative Hub Port Harcourt.
Inclusion and diversity are at the center of the festival. From their origins, they arose as
celebrations for all: the rich and the poor; women and men; the religious and the non-believers.
Today, the Afro Street Festival erases social and gender barriers. It gives a voice to the
upcoming stars and raw talents. However, they represent culture and heritage, represented by
evolving with times and expanding to encompass the creatives.
The Afro Street Festival is a Celebration for Development
As times evolve, Festivals, like any other tradition, need to keep up, not only to ensure their existence but to find more ways to benefit the society they serve and engage a larger audience. The main aim the festival strives to achieve in the future is to stop focusing solely on the number of visitors they receive but turn them into engines of improvement. The State must strengthen specific sub-sectors of tourism, the Afro Street Festival, for instance.
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