Communities of all colors came together to celebrate culture and diversity on Sunday afternoon. With various dances and music from Guinea to Punjab, the Duniya Dance and Drum Company hosted the African Arts Festival at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in San Francisco.
Formed in April 2007, the Duniya Dance and Drum Company creates dance and music from unique blends of Indian and African culture. Its mission is to cultivate respect for traditional forms, to promote cultural exchanges, to ensure social justice and to engage in the construction of the community.
The African Arts Festival September 29 was Duniya’s third festival in six years.
“Its purpose is to bring people together to celebrate art,” said Bongo Sidibe, music director. “We are very militant and we hope to bring together several cultures. “
Sidibe, who has lived in San Francisco for 11 years, is originally from Guinea, West Africa. He strives to bring happiness and joy in education.
The highlight of the festival was the eye-catching performances.
Traditional performing arts groups represented the different regional cultures of Africa, including the African diaspora, through colorful and complex performances.
The lineup included some of the best dance companies in the Bay Area, including the Afro-urban society, Shabbat, Fua dia Congo, Águas dance company, and The World Music and Dance Departments of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of Arts, among other music and dance groups.
“The dancing and the performances are definitely what defines the festival and what brings people here,” said Sidibe.
Another aspect of the festival were the community vendors selling traditional goods, such as clothes, instruments, jewelry, and food. Those in attendance could experience the culture through the tastes, smells and sights of all the products.
One of the vendors who participated was Julie Bata, from Houston, Texas. Bata appreciates the rich values and unimaginable diversity of the festival.
“I believe the festival is there to showcase all the wonderful talents of the community,” said Bata. “More people should go out and enjoy it! “
Bata, who runs a stand with handicrafts using traditional African textiles, enjoys dancing and music the most. It was the first time she sold at the African Arts Festival.
Another vendor who participated in the festival was Yassin Semega-Janneh. It was her first time as a saleswoman, selling traditional cotton fabrics from The Gambia. Semega-Janneh first attended the festival as an audience member about two years ago. She particularly likes the dance and the diversity brought by Duniya.
“It’s the sharing of love; exporting the love that makes the festival so special, ”said Semega-Janneh.