I had the pleasure of joining Randy Weston at the United States launch of The World Festival of Black Arts, FESMAN 2009, on January 14 at the United Nations in the Chamber of Economic and Social Council. FESMAN 2009, which will take place December 1-21, 2009 in Dakar, Senegal, seeks "…the remobilization of the cultural diversity of Africa and the Diaspora, for the sake of longlasting development of the [African] Continent." The launch event was presented by the host of what promises to be an incredible World Festival of Black Arts, the President of the Republic of Senegal, Mr. Abdoulaye Wade.
The UN launch event was an introductory opportunity for remarks from Dr. Djibril Diallo, the chairman of the Leadership Committee for the United States Launch of FESMAN 2009, and Dr. Marta Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center/African Diaspora Institute in New York and a member of the U.S. Committee for FESMAN 2009, and a keynote speech from President Wade (pronounced Wad). Welcoming remarks were provided by the hip hop artist and record producer Akon, the son of Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam who many remember from his groundbreaking work with pianist-composer Don Pullen among others, and the renowned singer Angelique Kidjo who is from Benin, West Africa was on hand, as was U.S. committee member Maulana Karenga, the creator of the Kwanza holiday celebration. Weston perfomed with his trio to tumultuous applause.
FESMAN 2009 will actually be the third such global Africa arts & culture event. The first two were known as FESTAC, the second of which was in 1977 in Lagos, Nigeria. Elsewhere in The Independent Ear you can read an anecdote on FESTAC ’77 from the book African Rhythms, the forthcoming autobiography of Randy Weston (composed by Randy Weston, arranged by Willard Jenkins to be published by Duke University Press. In the meantime anyone interested in FESMAN 2009, including artists wishing to be considered for what should be a groundbreaking festival, should visit www.fesman2009.com.