The festival features authentic crafts, goods, and food from the African diaspora. “Odunde” is Yoruba for “Happy New Year,”. The annual event honors traditions from the Nigerian culture, including a noon procession to the Schuylkill River in the city of Pennsylvania located in the state of Philadelphia to give offerings to Oshun, the Goddess of the River.
“To me “Odunde” festival is a demonstration of our African culture to America especially to African Americans who were brought from Africa and have lost their African culture because of the different cultures that their children were and are born into. I think it is a good thing because every race has a culture and it is a important for Africans everywhere to identity with their real roots” — Gyedu-Blay Ambolley.
Ambolley thoughts on Odunde
Ambolley who for the first time attended the festival in its 41st edition further disclosed to TheAfricanDream.net that he was invited to witness the festival since he happened to be in the Philadelphia area a few days prior in the company of Nathan Pryce of Pryce Levenson Corporation; his USA management. Ambolley received a citation from the City Council of Philadelphia, read by Councilwoman; Honorable Jannie Blackwell and Hon.Stanley J. Staughter.
The Deputy Ghana Ambassador to the USA; His Excellency Skido Achulo also received the Liberty BellThe Liberty Bell Award from Philly Mayor; Jim Kenney on behalf of His Excellency, Lt. Gen. Joseph Henry Smith (Rtd), Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States. It is the highest Award presented to a foreign diplomat by the city. Subsequently, he was presented with a citation of recognition read by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Ghanaian community leader, Dr. Samuel Quartey was there to support.
“The “Odunde” festival is indeed one colorful and amazingly authentic African festival here in the Diaspora, I am really impressed with its organizers and attendance and personally excited about the wonderful work the state of Philly is doing here to very soon name a street in honor of Ghana’s first president Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.”
This year, the “Odunde” saw hundreds of vendors hailing from Ambolley’s native of Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and other African countries. Tourists, city dwellers, and curious participants thronged the event in their thousands in search for a cultural and ancestral connection and the best of African, Caribbean and Soul foods, crafts, jewelry, clothing and networking opportunities.
The festival’s African Marketplace has in the past 4 decades of the existence of the “Odunde” been offering authentic items from countries in Africa, the Caribbean and South American continents to give this truly Afrocentric event a highly cosmopolitan appeal.
Performers headed to the South Street Stage for an outdoor concert that featured hip-hop group Brand Nubian and old school rapper Biz Markie. His Imperial Majesty Prince Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the 51st Ooni of Ife, the traditional ruler of Ile-Ife in Nigeria was the special guest at this year’s event. Although Ambolley did not perform, he told TheAfricanDream.net that he was really impressed by the performance of all the entertainers and artistes, something which has inspired him to begin looking into the possibility of performing at the 2017 event.
TheAfricanDream.net can confirm that while in the USA Ambolley will be visiting the Embassy of Ghana in Washington DC to present the citation received from Governor Jim Kenney to His Excellency, Lt. Gen. Joseph Henry Smith (Rtd), Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States. While with the Ambassador, Ambolley will also talk about his plans to spread authentic Ghanaian highlife music globally and other matters. This visit is expected to happen in June 2016
To find out more about Gyedu-Blay Ambolley visit www.ambolley.com information is also available on the “Odunde” at odundefestival.org
Written by Oral Ofori