Each June, the International African Arts Festival (IAAFestival) pours Libation to signify its opening ceremony, and despite the ongoing pandemic this year was no different.
Over the weekend, participants celebrated ahead of the upcoming 49th annual IAAFestival, which will take place online from July 3-5, with a virtual Libation 2020 livestream event.
For the festival board, this year’s mission seems more important than ever in a time of global crisis and nationwide unrest.
“Our community is hurting, and we are committed to help with the healing in this time of Covid-19, racial oppression and fierce resistance in America,” said Dr. Segun Shabaka, IAAFestival chair.
Artists with the Asasa Yaa Dance Group and Fusha Dancers stressed the importance of movement in a time of unprecedented quarantine, conducting dance workshops for the audience.
Libation 2020 also featured African-influenced musical stylings that took viewers around the world, from Morocco to Honduras to Haiti, and even to Brooklyn, where the IAAFestival is traditionally held.
IAAFestival was founded in 1971 as the African Street Carnival, a PTA block party and fundraiser for Uhuru Sasa Shule (Freedom Now School) in Bed-Stuy. The event showcased local entertainment and 20 vendors, attracting nearly 2,000 Brooklyn residents.
These days, IAAFestival is held over the course of several days in Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park and brings in more than 75,000 guests. Hundreds of vendors set up shop to celebrate the beauty of African culture across the globe through sculpture, clothing, jewelry, paintings, food and more.
Throughout the decades, iconic artists such as KRS-One, India Arie and Lauren Hill have graced the festival’s stage.
Tune in to iaafestival.org or check out @IAAFestival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on the main event on July 3.