This year’s headliners include roots rock reggae band Akae Beka, Grammy-nominated jazz duo The Baylor Project and the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago.

Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago. Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

The International African Arts Festival (IAAF), Brooklyn’s beloved celebration of African culture and family, returns from Saturday, June 30 – Wednesday, July 4, to Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park. And this year, the festival is adding a new component to its jam-packed program of performances and activities: a five-day film festival in partnership with the Africa World Documentary Film Festival (AWDFF).

“The festival’s mission is to preserve, present and celebrate the very best of African culture,” said IAAF board chairman Dr. Segun Shabaka. “As Pan-Africanists, we seek to do this via a very wide lens. We present to Brooklyn several new and established African artists, as well as a unique variety of cultural representations from the African world community.”

Celebrating its 47th anniversary, the 2018 festival features an eclectic list of luminaries from a variety of genres: Avant-garde jazz and hard bop musician Reginald “Reggie” Workman who will play a tribute to John Coltrane; the world-renown Ballet Folklorico, an Afro-Cuban-Franco-Haitian folk and popular dance and music ensemble from Cuba; Akae Beka, the roots rock reggae band formerly known as Midnite; the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago; the Grammy-nominated jazz duo The Baylor Project featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor, and Neil Clarke’s Mongojazz Project.

Other performers include spoken word, neo-soul artist Wordsmith; Ishangi Family African Dancers; Ed Stoute Ensemble, and calypso artist David Rudder. The festival’s closing performances will feature Rene McLean, Urban Djeliya and Bongi Duma, who will perform a tribute to Hugh Masekela.

Grammy-nominated jazz duo the Baylor Project. Photo credit: The Baylor Project

For the first time in its 47-year history, IAAF will launch a documentary film series in partnership with the Africa World Documentary Film Festival (AWDFF). To be held on the grounds of Commodore Barry Park, the film screenings will feature short and full-length documentaries from AWDFF’s extensive library.

“The AWDFF documentaries that we’ve chosen shed light on various issues affecting Africans throughout Africa and its diaspora,” said Dr. Shabaka. “They are very powerful, informative and well-researched projects from a variety of filmmakers.”

The International African Arts Festival (IAAF) began in 1971 as a fundraiser for the Uhuru Sasa School, a community-based initiative that educated youth and adults about African culture. Started as a small fundraiser with about 20 arts and crafts vendors, local entertainers and food prepared by parents of the school’s students, the inaugural event attracted almost 2,000 people. Today, the event is known as the International African Arts Festival and has an estimated annual audience of 75,000.

Roots Rock Reggae band Akae Beka. Photo credit: wikipedia

The celebrations will be accompanied with its annual symposium, a daily children’s program, an arts and craft zone, a fashion and natural hair show, a health fair, dance workshops and many other attractions. The festival welcomes guests of all ages, backgrounds, and musical preferences. Visit the official website for details.

International African Arts Festival

When: Saturday, June 30 – Wednesday, July 4, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm – rain or shine

Where: Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave & N. Elliot Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Admission: $5 for adults and $2 for children (suggested minimum donation)


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