World Cultures Festival to showcase gems of African culture (with photos)

     The biennial World Cultures Festival is returning this year with a focus on Africa, the cradle of world civilisation, to showcase the continent's vibrancy and cultures in its distinctive music, dance and theatre.
     Organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, World Cultures Festival 2017 - Vibrant Africa will run from October 20 to November 19.
     Youssou N'Dour, hailed by the Guardian in the UK as the "foremost figure in world music", will open the festival with his group the Super Étoile de Dakar. N'Dour initiated mbalax by fusing traditional Senegalese music with jazz, soul, Latin, rock and more. The Senegalese star performer's authentic sound has won him a devoted fan base across the world, and he will deliver powerful songs transcending geographical, religious and cultural frontiers in his Hong Kong concerts. The opening programme is also one of the programmes celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

     The closing performance, "Mandela Trilogy" by the Cape Town Opera, integrates opera, Broadway musical style and traditional Xhosa song and dance as it pays tribute to South Africa's monumental hero Nelson Mandela in a stirring folk opera.
     Other music programmes range from soul soothing works to high-energy shows. Grammy and Emmy Award winners the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa will perform in brightly hued costumes and present amazing harmonies. Angélique Kidjo from Benin, the "queen of African music", will proudly return and pay tribute to three late divas: Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba and Nina Simone. Traditions of the continent are further explored by performers including Gambia's Sona Jobarteh, the first female kora virtuoso, who will tell the story of the Manding people in a concert that brings together traditional African sounds and Western music to soulfully touch the heart. Musicians led by Bachir Attar will showcase the remarkable artistic tradition of Jajouka, taking the audience into a Moroccan soundscape reaching back over 1 000 years.
     For dance fans, Tlé (the Sun) by DAFRA Drum from Burkina Faso will share both passion and joy in a panoply of West African drumming and movement. The 73-year-old "mother of contemporary African dance" Germaine Acogny from Senegal will make her thrilling Hong Kong debut by performing two contrasting solo works resonating with her characteristic and compelling energy.
     The festival also features rarely seen African theatre productions. They include two works in the monodrama series "A Woman in Waiting" by eminent South African actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones and "Split/Mixed" by Rwandan actor Ery Nzaramba, which provide thought-provoking insight into the turbulent eras of the makers' countries. Other attractions include the innovative interactive Nigerian theatre work "Strelitzia", the award-winning Kenyan play "A Man Like You" and reader's theatre by the Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies featuring "The Road to Mecca" by legendary South African playwright and Tony Award winner Athol Fugard. In addition, the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong) will conduct a series of appreciation programmes including online appreciation, film screenings and an African Plays Tasting Series.
     Apart from staging performances, the festival will also offer an inspiring range of extension activities, including meet-the-artist sessions, talks, workshops, exhibitions, an outdoor carnival, and outreach performances in shopping malls and schools.

     Tickets for World Cultures Festival - Vibrant Africa will be available at URBTIX ( from tomorrow (September 8) onwards. For credit card telephone bookings, please call 2111 5999.

     For programme enquiries and concessionary schemes, please call 2370 1044 or visit

Ends/Thursday, September 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:00