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Oye! It's time to celebrate Africa.

Byline: Claudia Tanner

AFRICA Oye, the UK's largest free African music festival, returns to Sefton park next weekend.

Running on both Saturday and Sunday, the family-friendly celebration of cultural diversity has become an annual must-see in Liverpool's music calendar.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to see the best sights, sounds and sensations of African music, dance and performance.

Now celebrating its 14th year, the hugely successful event has attracted a wealth of international stars to Merseyside.

One of the major acts this year is Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective. Palacio is one of the most popular musicians in Belize, with a deep commitment to preserving his unique Garifuna culture.

He travels widely promoting and performing his music, and his latest album Watina is currently number one in the World Music Charts Europe.

Other artists include Papa Noel and Bana Congo (Cuba/Democratic Republic of Congo), LA 33 (Columbia), Culture (Jamaica), The Ghana All Stars (Ghana) and Daby Balde (Senegal).

Paul Duhaney. the event's organiser says: "Africa Oye is the only major black music festival in the city. "However, the audience is truly diverse - black and white, young and old and everything in between. It truly encapsulates what the Capital of Culture is all about." With this year marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, the artists playing at this year's festival have been chosen from countries whose ancestors were victims of the atrocities. Indeed, as Paul points out, all the artists have their own stories - many hail from war-torn countries, or have escaped brutal regimes.

However, he also adds: "Africa is often portrayed in the news through stories of war, Aids, poverty, and famine.

"Africa Oye celebrates the positives coming out of Africa - the incredible range of music, food and culture."

Many stalls can be found in the International Village, where food and crafts from all around the world are on offer. Clothing, hair demonstrations and face painting are also available throughout the weekend, along with many other activities - including a climbing wall and moonwalker dome - to suit the whole family.

Paul says: "The success of the event has been phenomenal. A decade ago we had a few hundred people turning up, and last year there were 40,000 across the whole weekend, and many travel in from outside of the city."

Africa Oye festival on Saturday and Sunday, June 16 and 1 7.

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DANCE FUN: Little De'wone Boye-Hiorcan at last year's Africa Oye festival and inset, organiser Paul Duhaney
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 8, 2007
Words:418
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