Inside Sydney, Australia’s Africultures Festival
By DeAnna Taylor
The 11th installment of Sydney’s Africultures Festival was held on March 9. This one-day festival was created as a way to showcase, celebrate, and bring together all of the African cultures represented throughout Sydney and surrounding areas. In past years, 40 of the 53 sovereign African countries have been represented.
Africultures Festival is supported by Somali Welfare & Cultural Association, a local not-for-profit organization and registered charity. The festival funds itself through sponsorship, stall-holder fees, and community donations. It is free for attendees, but donations are welcomed.
I had the chance to attend this year’s festival, and it was truly an amazing experience. From the time you walked into the Wyatt Park grounds, you were immediately introduced to a melting pot of all shades and hues of black and brown people representing dozens of cultures. The Black and brown skin tones were adorned with the brightest and boldest African patterns to truly give one a sensory overload.
The main entertainment stage hosted various artists and groups who represented Africa and the African diaspora through their arts. There were several stalls of vendors selling handmade clothing pieces, jewelry, and other Afro-centered gifts.
There was an entire row of food vendors that represented all of the different flavors of the motherland. Stalls were grilling perfectly seasoned lamb skewers, family stalls dishing out their homemade jollof rice, and there was even a stall whipping up fresh sugar cane juice.
A highlight for me were the circles that would form as attendees would show off their hottest dance moves to the latest Afrobeats. It truly represented the purpose of the festival; cultures coming together and attendees feeling a sense of belonging with people that look just like them.
I sat down with one of the festival organizers, Sahra Tohow, to learn more about the festival and what it means to have something like this in Sydney.
“It brings so much joy to have this space for us the African diaspora. My dad came here in the early ’80s and I am second generation Somali, born in Australia. For me being part of Africultures is about connecting with community, reconnecting with who you are, where you’re from, and celebrating our diverse and vibrant cultures in one place.” Sahra told Travel Noire.
“When you walk around inner Sydney, you don’t necessarily see a lot of people of African descent. Africultures brings us all together and gives us a place to honour our unique cultures while celebrating that we are all from one amazing diverse continent. There’s a real vibe here because people are able to be their unapologetically authentic selves, which in itself is so valuable.”
“Most of us here are either first or second generation so connecting with community is really important,” Sahra explained. “Having that connection to your identity, culture and people who look like you has monumental affect on how we feel and see ourselves.”
“The vision for the festival in coming years is to continue to focus on supporting our community and ensuring that small businesses are supported so they can grow.”
If you get the chance to visit Sydney while the festival takes place, I highly recommend supporting it.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.