About Afrikadey! Festival

Afrikadey! – a word that comes from the broken English spoken in West Africa, which means “Africa is Alive, Africa is Well, Africa is There”. For a week each summer in Calgary, Afrikadey! Festival also celebrates African culture in all its richness and vibrancy.

Like the continent of Africa, what makes this festival memorable and rewarding is its diversity. In August 2016 we will present an explosion of musical styles, dance, art and literature that are rooted in Africa.

Many Africans make Calgary their home and this is a wonderful opportunity to join together with them to celebrate their cultural heritage. For the past 24 years, the Afrikadey! Festival, which is presented by the Afrikadey! Arts & Culture Society, has connected Calgarians with the dynamic music, creative arts and delicious cuisine of Africa. With your help, 2016 will be no exception.

Calgary's Afrikadey! is a week-long celebration of the music, food, dance, theatre, film, literature and visual arts of Africa and her descendant cultures.

  • Event Type: Arts and Culture
  • Content: Multimedia / Interactive
  • Years Running: 25
  • 2016 Date: August 10th to 13th
  • Location: All over Calgary - Indoor / Outdoor
  • Main event: Outdoor music show on Prince's Island Park (698 Eau Claire Ave. SW, Calgary, AB, Canada)
  • Artistic Director: Tunde Dawodu


The Afrikadey! Arts & Culture Society

The Afrikadey! Arts & Culture Society was created 25 years ago by artistic director Tunde Dawodu. The society shares the rich creative works of African cultures - from the continent and throughout the Diaspora - with Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life. We create and stage events year round that bring these artistic traditions to vibrant, joyous life for audiences who might otherwise not get to experience them.

Tunde Dawodu
Artistic Director




Board Members

Koffi Deku - Chairperson

Tunde Dawodu - Artistic Director

Yuen Lee - Business Development Director and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors

Brian Quaye - Treasurer

Sipiwe Mapfumo - Community Coordinator

Sylvester Ndumbi - Production Manager

Multicultural Profile

Audience: Festival goers, government agencies, media outlets

Purpose: To convey the importance of Afrikadey! to Calgary's multicultural profile

From its inception twenty-five years ago, the Afrikadey! Festival has carried forth the message of socio-political consciousness. It is our belief that the performing arts are a powerful force when it comes to promoting cultural unity amongst Calgarians. Proudly fostering the careers of artists, authors and musicians from Canada and around the globe, Afrikadey! provides individuals and communities with a platform from which they may address their audiences directly and parlay advocacy into meaningful action. Through the continued efforts of the largely volunteer-based Afrikadey! Arts & Culture Society, this dynamic and multifaceted annual celebration of Africa-Canadian culture offers festival-goers of all ages the opportunity to have an international experience in the heart of their own city. It is for these reasons that it is so essential that Calgary's Afrikadey! Festival continues to receive new and ongoing financial support from all levels of government, corporate benefactors and individual donors.

"In a city that has a long and storied history of western culture, there is a festival that reminds Calgarians of the rich African culture that is alive and well and growing every year. Afrikadey! is Calgary's festival that showcases African culture and music in early August on Prince's Island. While it may not be as big or as celebrated as the Calgary Stampede or Folk Fest, Afrikadey! fills a niche to highlight the intimate and diverse collection of Canadian and internationally recognized artists that often go unnoticed." (Saunders, Chad. Director of Special Projects, National Music Centre of Canada, June 2012)

Despite the ongoing challenges of presenting a world-class music and arts festival,Afrikadey! continues to attract new talent each year. From art gallery classes for children to sold-out drumming workshops, the festival's growing reputation has seen it expanding into new venues and building relationships between local and international communities.

One of the main draws to this highly anticipated summer event is the diversity of acts embraced by Afrikadey!'s programming. Earmarked by the overall quality of the acts it attracts each year, the Afrikadey! experience is a true favourite amongst Calgary's festival-loving audiences. But while picnickers are largely concerned with positioning lawn-chairs and the availability of soft-serve ice cream, the performers and organizers who make the magic happen tend to have a different set of priorities to consider. This is where Afrikadey! really shines. Diligently labouring to bring all the pieces together, our team of coordinators works behind the scenes to ensure that each of our artists enjoys the optimal festival experience. Calgarians are known for their volunteership and Afrikadey! certainly relies on the time and efforts of our core of dedicated volunteers. But they can't do it alone. The future of Afrikadey! in Calgary, Alberta depends on the AACS's ability to achieve financial security.

"Open and accessible festivals like Afrikadey! go beyond a great couple of days of entertainment. They open people's eyes to unique music, culture, and experiences. Festivals like Afrikadey! go beyond bringing people together - they bind us to one another." (Burima, Joe. Programming Director, CJSW 90.9FM, Calgary's Campus & Community Radio Station, June 2012)

Indeed, our Board's principal activities are geared toward the presentation of innovative, creative music, dance, multi-media performances, spoken word, and the exhibition of visual arts. As a Society our members are particularly dedicated to the presentation of innovative Canadian music generated from a uniquely Afro-Canadian perspective. Celebrating artists who represent the multitude of cultures and backgrounds present across Alberta and Canada at large, Afrikadey!'s eclectic programming attracts an increasingly broad range of people to its gates. As an artist-oriented, not-for-profit, multi-cultural organization whose purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the cultural contributions of Canadians of African descent the Afrikadey! Arts & Culture Society encourages a sense of community amongst artists and the community.

Does the public support funding arts and culture initiatives like Afrikadey!? Journalist Nicole Million recently interviewed Nichole Anderson, president of Business for the Arts regarding his organization's views on the efficient spending of tax dollars. Discouraged by the sudden announcement of $60 million in recent cuts by the Conservative government Anderson, like the public, are left wondering if the funds will ever be reinvested in the cultural sector.

"Government support has to be responsive to the artist," he said. "Artists are infinitely creative and, therefore, there are a wide variety of programs that may be difficult for others to understand, but they're so critical for the development of our artists." The arts community is understandably upset. Business for the Arts feels these cuts ... send the wrong message to the arts community, the business community and to all of our citizens that Canada doesn't value or appreciate the social and economic benefits our artists bring to our country," they said. "Any business in Canada would agree that the more attractive our cities become through diverse arts and cultural activities, the easier it becomes to attract international talent to their firms. Countless studies show that Canada requires a healthy cultural community in order to attract and retain talent in this increasingly global economy. (Reduction in arts funding criticized Million, Nicole. The Midland - Penetanguishene Mirror [Midland, Ont] 01 Oct 2008: 1.)

Truly a boon to unknown artists jostling for the spotlight in today's fluctuating music industry, Afrikadey! compliments the established career-artist with burgeoning talent to the benefit of both parties. Because new artists and experienced practitioners (many of whom are award-winning legends themselves) work, and play, alongside each other at the festival, Afrikadey! also allows an exceptional occasion for one-to-one observation and mentorship. The number of unsolicited auditions and applications received by Afrikadey! is a testament to our internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, all within a collection of distinctive venues right here in Calgary, "The Heart of the New West".

Author Denise Roy raises some interesting points about the prospects for encouraging government support for the arts in her examination of a rather controversial article by Jacques Barzun. According to Barzun our government has cultivated a "surfeit of art" through its granting programs.

"The notion of an oversupply of art is never raised. We are familiar with the dangers of too much farm produce, too rich a diet, too many births; we should also see too much art as a predicament. An oversupply of art does not lower prices or cause the artist to "give up the business"; it only augments the need for subsidies.

Roy responds: "When I first came across this piece about five years ago, it made my blood boil. Now I'm beginning to think that there is at least a grain of truth in his argument. The bottom line is, with growing pressure to bring deficits under control, it may not matter what we value or how persuasive a case we can make for arts funding. At a certain point, we will be forced to admit that it simply isn't worth the time and effort to rage against government cuts-especially as even now it is clear that the biggest success we can hope for amounts to holding the line. This energy no doubt could be better spent trying to find creative solutions to survival, to experiment with structural innovations and to take risks." (Arts funding: the Alberta horizon Roy, Denise. Canadian Theatre Review 82 (Spring 1995): 14-18.)

In conclusion, the manifold, if somewhat immeasurable, benefits received by the citizens and artists who participate in Afrikadey! programs are most evident is the spiritual and intellectual momentum they continue to experience after the event. Past performers readily testify to the considerable critical acclaim, peer appreciation and financial stimulation that has been generated as a direct result of their appearance on Afrikadey! stages. Globe-trotting musicians and world music lovers alike have taken notice, expressing their desire to become involved in our vision of providing avant-garde, multi-racial programming. Over the decades, countless contributors has returned to aid our organization while others have demonstrated their loyalty by continuing to return to our events annually. Reflecting the progress of multi-cultural music in North America, our festival's roster features innovative music that often remains underexposed and without recognition in its place of origin. Thus we shall achieve our goals are to acknowledge and sustain the legacy of Afro-Canadian art forms, while ensuring their future development by establishing a platform for expression, communication and promotion. Propelling the community's interest in the African-Canadian culture by opening up access to arts, culture, education and recreation Afrikadey! has succeeded in carving a distinct niche for a new brand of "traditionally" Canadian artistic talent.

Christine Leonard-Cripps