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African artists join culture fest

by Mads Berthelsen

Staff Writer

Thanks to the Internet, African musicians have been getting a growing amount of attention from outside their own borders. Blogs such as Awesome Tapes from Africa have been working to get artists known overseas, while some bands, such as Pasichigare Mbiras, continue to rely on cultural organizations for help.

At the end of the month, African embassies will help bring some acts to Japan. From March 30 to April 1, the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse will host the 2012 African Festival, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary.

The weekend kicks off Friday with Ghana-based drum troupe Akwaaba, which fittingly means “welcome” in the Akan language spoken in that country. The band will perform at 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

On Saturday, you can catch a performance by Pasichigare Mbiras, which consists of both Zimbabwean and Japanese members. They play a traditional African instrument called the mbira.

Guinean singer Nyama Kante will round out the festival Sunday afternoon, performing a set with drum troupe Jelidon that hopes to send you home dancing.

For the entire weekend there will also be photo exhibitions, a game area, an African market and workshops. You can even visit an embassy area, where representatives from Lesotho, Kenya and Ghana will be more than happy to tell you about their countries and culture.

African Festival Yokohama takes place at Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse from March 30-April 1. Entry is free of charge. For more information, visit www.africanfestyokohama.com.