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22 May, 2021

Celebrating Cairns' African community

This year’s Cairns African Festival on 5 June will see talented locals perform alongside award-winning headlining interstate acts celebrating the cultural diversity of the region’s growing African community.

Anna Wairimu Jones, President of the Cairns African Association that organises the festival, said: “Cairns is a treasured home for many Africans, some who migrated for business and others who fled persecution.”

“We all call Cairns home and we encourage all the community to come celebrate with us.”

The Cairns African Festival combines Africa Day (25 May) and International Day of the African Child (16 June).

Both days have been commemorated in Cairns since 2004 when some of the first Africans arrived in the region through the government’s humanitarian program.

“Association members will be selling African-themed products, and the youth will bring lively performances, allowing a cross-section of the African community to demonstrate the unique contribution that their diversity makes to our region,” Anna said.

There will be drumming workshops for the kids and adults, as well as various African stalls showcasing traditional food, African crafts, and hair braiding.

The first headlining act is Brisbane-based Jack Manasi and The Afro Kick Band (Congo), a dynamic eight-piece gospel band playing “Soukous” music’, an up-tempo form of African dance music originating from the Congo in Central Africa.

“Our second headlining act is Guinean master drummer and dancer, Abdoulaye Epizo Bangoura, a multiple award-winning African musician,” said Anna.

Children who participate in Epizo Bangoura’s free drum workshops in the week leading up to the festival, will also have the chance to perform on stage with Epizo at the festival.

Other highlights of the festival include a fashion parade, art displays, and performances by the Living Light Gospel Church African Choir, traditional Rwandan, Ethiopian and Congolese dancers as well as contemporary dance groups, including the Trinity Bay High School African Dancers.

Yidinji Traditional Owners of Gimuy (Cairns), the Minjil Aboriginal Dance Group will also shake-a-leg.

There will be charity stalls supporting various projects in Africa and the opportunity for people to be dressed in traditional Kenyan Maasai dress and have their picture taken.

With at least 13 of Africa’s 54 countries represented in the Cairns community, Anna said the sentiment of the festival is based on an African proverb: “If you want to go quickly you go alone, but if you want to go far you go together.”

“This festival is a showcase of African unity, not just in Africa but also within Cairns, where we have been embraced by the community and by Australia.”

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