ODUNDE Announces 35th Anniversary Festival Week

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World-renowned Universal African Dance Ensemble, an African Business Symposium and a visit by the Governor of OSUN state of Nigeria will be featured

ODUNDE 35th Annual Festival Week

Be a Player: An Oral History of the Life of Lois Fernandez

The organizers of the ODUNDE African and African-American Festival today announced a week-long schedule of events, beginning on June 5, 2010, in celebration of its 35th Anniversary.

The week’s activities will culminate on Sunday, June 13, with the annual centerpiece, the ODUNDE Festival, itself, which will take place, as it always has, along South Street, here, from 20th to 24th Streets, and from 23rd and Lombard to Grays Ferry Avenue and Christian Street.

The free, outdoor festival, whose central theme is rooted in the traditions of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, will feature a wide variety of vendors, craftspeople, artists and performers.

More than 500,000 persons, drawn from throughout the Greater Philadelphia area and the mid-Atlantic region, are expected to attend and participate in the events.

The ODUNDE week-long activities will include the following:

June 5, 2010    
An African Dance Extravaganza, featuring the world-renowned Universal African Dance Ensemble, at the Please Touch Museum.    
Time: 12:00 Noon – 2:00pm    
Location: Please Touch Museum Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park: 4231 Avenue of the Republic: (formerly North Concourse Drive): Philadelphia, PA 19131

June 8-9, 2010
International Black Women’s Conference (planning meeting), hosted by Hon. Jannie Blackwell    
Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm    
Location: Women’s Empowerment Center
4950 Aspen Street
Philadelphia, PA 19139

June 9, 2010    
International Black Women’s Conference Reception    
Time: 6:00pm – 8:30pm    
Location: City Hall
City Council Caucus Room 401
Philadelphia, Pa 19107

June 11, 2010
African Diplomat VIP reception honoring Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Governor, OSUN State of Nigeria
Time: 6:00pm- 8:00pm
Location: City Hall, Room 201
Mayor’s Reception Room Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107

June 12, 2010
African Business Symposium and Townhall Meeting (conducted by ODUNDE board member, Stanley Straughter)    
Symposium: 10:00am – 1:00pm
Townhall Meeting: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Symposium: 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107
Townhall Meeting: Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School
901 North 6th Street Philadelphia, PA 19123

A major highlight in the scheduled programs for the week will be the African Business Symposium and Townhall Meeting. Stanley L. Straughter, chairman, Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs, and board member of ODUNDE, said, “This event is an important gathering of the Philadelphia business community and African trade leaders, including many heads of state and African countries. It provides an open forum for free discussion about trade regulation and rules of conduct for doing business and building enterprise here and in Africa.”

As has been done throughout the 35-year history of the ODUNDE festival, Sunday’s event will begin with a procession from ODUNDE’s Grays Ferry headquarters to the Schuylkill River, at 25th and Locust Street at noon. There, ODUNDE founder and president Lois Fernandez will lead participants in paying homage to the Yoruba goddess of the river, Oshun. Once offerings of fruits, money, flowers and other items have been cast into the river, the procession will make its way back down South Street for the official start of the festival.

Among the entertainers scheduled to participate in Sunday’s events are Neo-Soul artists, Hip Hop Dance Groups, Doo-Wop Groups, African-Brazilian Dance Troupes and Gospel Music Groups.

In addition, an African Hair Braiding Showcase will be featured.

Initiated in 1975 by Lois Fernandez and Ruth Arthur, the ODUNDE Festival has spawned a vital organization whose yearly programs and events reach audiences of more than 500,000 persons. With the upcoming completion of OSUN Village, a state-of-the-art 16 unit senior housing complex, ODUNDE will continue to expand the cultural and community programs it offers to local residents.

Commenting on the 35th anniversary of ODUNDE and this year’s week-long festivities, Oshunbumi Fernandez, president and CEO, ODUNDE, said, “The ODUNDE festival is a vibrant and fun Philadelphia tradition that connects the city with African culture and rituals, in an effort to expand local knowledge of that part of the world. As always, we invite all people, throughout the region, and beyond to attend.”

Throughout the year, ODUNDE sponsors numerous activities, including the “Thru African Doors” performance program, which travels to Philadelphia public schools. Various other programs and workshops are available to the general public. ODUNDE also offers publications and other educational materials, such as the video “Be a Player: An Oral History of the Life of Lois Fernandez” and the book: “From Hucklebuck to HipHop: Social Dance in the African American Community in Philadelphia,” by acclaimed folklorist John Roberts.

Further information on ODUNDE’s programs publications and calendar of events may be obtained by calling the ODUNDE office at (267)-808-8510 or by visiting: http://www.odundeinc.org.

Sponsors of this year’s activities include: Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Commerce and Economic Development and the Pennsylvania Lottery.

ODUNDE, has gained a national reputation as one of Philadelphia's brightest cultural jewels. The word ODUNDE originates with the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa, and means "Happy New Year". The annual festival draws more than 500,000 persons and is an occasion marked by joy and hope, beginning with a colorful procession to the Schuylkill River where offerings of fruits and flowers are made to Oshun, the Goddess of the River.

After the procession to the river, the African New Year celebration begins with a variety of vendors, craftspeople artists and performers.


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