African fest mixes mu­sic with is­sues

Central Leader - - News - By Christo­pher Adams

The rhythm and cul­tures of Africa will be cel­e­brated this week­end when the in­au­gu­ral African Youth Fes­ti­val ar­rives at the Mt Al­bert War Memo­rial Hall.

The Ghana­ian As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand, with sup­port from the Lot­tery Grants Board, has or­gan­ised the fes­ti­val, which will in­clude per­for­mances by Taste of Africa, the Zoh Zoh En­sem­ble and rap group Deff Beat.

Auck­land mayor John Banks will speak at the event, along with Eth­nic Af­fairs Min­is­ter Pansy Wong.

A dance party fea­tur­ing a DJ play­ing African mu­sic will fol­low the per­for­mances and speeches, says Ghana­ian As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Charles Dwa­mena.

Dr Dwa­mena, a re­search sci­en­tist who has lived in Auck­land for 14 years, says one of the fes­ti­val’s ob­jec­tives is to cre­ate a fo­rum dis­cussing is­sues af­fect­ing African youth in New Zealand. Dr Dwa­mena says the west­ern me­dia’s por­trayal of Africa as “a land of waste” un­der­mines the con­fi­dence young Africans liv­ing in New Zealand have in their cul­tural iden­tity.

Yaw Boateng, lead vo­cal­ist and drum­mer for the Zoh Zoh En­sem­ble, says three mem­bers of the group will per­form at Sun­day’s event.

The fes­ti­val will help to give the pub­lic a wider view on Auck­land’s African youth, says Mr Boateng, who is also orig­i­nally from Ghana.

Mr Boateng agrees that the me­dia gives some Ki­wis a warped view of what Africa is re­ally like, and says the fes­ti­val will help cre­ate pub­lic aware­ness about the con­ti­nent.

The African Youth Fes­ti­val will run from 4pm un­til mid­night on Sun­day at the Mt Al­bert War Memo­rial Hall, 773 New North Rd.

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