Africa Oye June 2017, Sefton Park, Liverpool
Africa Oyé, the UK’s largest free celebration of African music and culture takes place annually in Liverpool. Beginning in 1992 as a series of small gigs in the city centre, the event has gone from strength to strength, moving to its present Sefton Park home in 2002 to cope with demand.
With too many negative representations of Africa entrenched in images of war, disease, poverty and famine, Oyé seeks to redress the balance and highlight the fantastic range of cultures, foods, music and artists that make this great continent one of the most vibrant and inspiring in the world.
“This isn’t just the largest festival of African and Caribbean music in Britain, it’s the best”
– The Sunday Times
Freedom Journey Hub at Sefton Park
I have been attending this festival for many years, and it has always delivered. The atmosphere in the park every year is one of joy, energy and peace. There has never been any trouble during this festival in all its years – everyone attending is there for the same reason, and this makes it incredibly relaxed and friendly.
The acts are always diverse, and on Saturday we had artists from the UK, Angola, Mauritiania\France, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Zimbabwe. In between filming and taking photographs, I was spending my time dancing, eating and drinking with some amazing friends. It’s not really possible to keep your feet still when listening to such great beats, so if there’s any blur in the videos or photos, that will be why! Note to self: take a tripod next time…
In Times Like This
The takeaway artist for me was Black Prophet. He sings from the heart about events in the world. Before he began his set properly, he asked the audience to observe 50 seconds silence, out of respect for the people who had lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which had occurred just three days previously. He also dedicated the silence to all those who have been a victim of violence of abuse.
Black Prophet is a reggae\roots reggae artist, and his music had me jumping all over the place. I really resonated with his lyrics. 2017 has been a dreadful year for many people. We had the Grenfell Tower fire, and it seemed that everyone around me (including myself) had experienced some personal tragedy or difficult times that year. Government austerity was biting deep and having terrible effects on the most vulnerable in our society. One phrase from his song “Times Like This” I found especially relevant. It brought tears to my eyes, even as I was filming it:
“In times like this, just look upon the hills and remember that you are not alone,
In times like this, remember that the sun does not shine on one man’s house alone.”
It was with a heavy heart that I packed up and headed home, not because I had gotten thinking about all the bad things. I was full of hope, and the festival had lifted my spirits.
I just wanted it to continue. More please. See you there in 2018.
All footage shot by Freedom Journey Hub and used under fair use policy as reportage.
Freedom Journey Hub is not associated with Africa Oye or the musicians shown.