History has recorded 1792 as being the year that former slaves founded Freetown.
Resting proudly as the capital of the West African country Sierra Leone, Freetown tells a story of resilience and pride.
Interestingly, Sierra Leone was one of the many ports of exit for the slave trade.
As history continues to remind us, many slaves settled in various parts of the world, including the Caribbean which creates a clear cultural correlation.
The founders of the AfriCaribbean Festival have curated a multi-event festival that provides culturally diverse and unique experiences in Africa.
The first of its kind in Africa, the inaugural Africaribbean Festival which ran from December 28 2022 through January 2 2023 attracted hundreds of visitors.
Tasked with the challenge of facilitating easy access to Sierra Leone’s capital, the festival organizers partnered with Air Senegal to create a flight to Freetown and Brussels Airlines to offer special discounts to festival travelers.
Co-Founder of the AfriCaribbean Festival, Sierra Leonean, Danna Labor attributes his experiences at various Caribbean and Caribbean-inspired carnivals as his motivation to curate the AfriCaribbean Festival in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Labor asserts, “There is a rich history and connection between Sierra Leone and the Caribbean and I am elated that the inaugural hosting of our AfriCaribbean festival was a success.” Labor describes the feedback from both visitors and Sierra Leoneans as “overwhelmingly positive.”
He shares that the locals have expressed their excitement for year two; “they want the AfriCaribbean Festival to be a must-attend like Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival.”
Labor added that some natives “were overwhelmed that this Caribbean Carnival that they’ve only seen on television or social media happened in Freetown.”
The festival featured seven events; Welcome Party, Ankara Pool party, All white Beachfete, Pajama party, J’ouvert, Carnival Meets Lantern parade, Culture Clash Concert, and two tours; City Tour and Bunce Island.
Headlining the events were Trinbagonian Soca star Devon ‘Lyrikal’ Martin, Ace Pannist Michael, Florida-based Soca artiste Sizwe C, Guyanese Trevon Vibes, Vincentian Fimba Jardine and Sierra Leonean talents Tigerman, Drizilik, Faze Ya-Alimamy and Dallas Bantan, among others.
This historical initiative as described by the team is “designed to bring together Africans, Caribbeans, African-Americans and Afro-Latinos through Soca Music, Arts, Culture and ancestry.” Staying true to its mission, one of AfriCaribbean’s visions is to support Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Returnee Program.
Through recognition, it is their hope to assist AfriCaribbean patrons with determining if their lineage is that of Sierra Leonean.
As the organization continues preparation for year two which runs from December 28 2023 through January 2 2024, Labor hopes that “Different Caribbean countries will see the cultural exchange opportunities between the Caribbean and Sierra Leonean artistes and support our efforts.”
AfriCaribbean is the ultimate two-for-one special as patrons can check Africa off their bucket list while enjoying the culture with tours to historical sites, and partying the Caribbean way. All relevant information pertaining to the AfriCaribbean Festival can be found via the official website www.africaribbeanfestival.com.
The organizers wish to extend their sincerest gratitude to the persons listed below for their contributions to the success of the inaugural AfriCaribbean Festival. – Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs – Hon. Dr. Memunatu Pratt – General Manager National Tourist Board Sierra Leone – Fatmata Mida Hamid Carew – Mayor of City of Freetown – Her Lordship Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE – Ambassador to Senegal for Sierra Leone – His Excellency Alhaji Brima Elvis Koroma – High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Kenya – Her Excellency Isatu Aminata Bundu.