ODUNDE Announces 36th Anniversary Festival Lineup

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Liberian Business and Education Roundtables, African Diplomatic and Ambassador Reception and World-Record Setting Zumba Class to Headline Events

The organizers of the ODUNDE African and African-American Festival today announced a four-day schedule of events, beginning on June 9, 2011, in celebration of its 36th Anniversary.

The activities will culminate on Sunday, June 12, 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.

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

Major highlights in the scheduled programs for the week will be the Liberian Business roundtable, which will feature dignitaries from Liberia and invited guest J. Thomas Moore, Jr. of Select Greater Philadelphia; the Liberian Education roundtable, which will feature presidents from local colleges and universities, including Dr. Amy Gutman of University of Pennsylvania, and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell; and the free Zumba aerobics class, which will attempt to break the Guinness world record of 1,294 individuals participating in a class, simultaneously, set by Clemson University, this year. Pre-registration and bus pick-up locations for the Zumba session will be posted on http://www.odundefestival.org or participants may call 1-888-765-9569, for more information.

As has been done throughout the 36-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 artist Slick Rick, Doo-Wop Groups, African-Brazilian Dance Troupes and gospel music groups.

Initiated by Fernandez and Ruth Arthur in 1975, the ODUNDE Festival has spawned a vital organization with a year-round schedule of programs and events. In addition to the cultural benefits, this past year, the organization completed the construction of OSUN Village, a state-of-the-art, 16-unit senior housing complex, in South Philadelphia.

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.

Commenting on this year’s program schedule, Oshunbumi Fernandez, president and CEO, ODUNDE, said, “In addition to having our attendees, this year, attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for participating in a single Zumba class, we’re especially excited about this year’s Liberian Business Roundtable. This is an opportune time to discuss U.S. and African business development. Actually, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes how U.S. companies are racing to catch up with businesses from countries such as China, which have already established a viable business presence in Africa. The size, diversity of the landscape, and the amount of natural resources on the continent, allows for mutually beneficial relationships between here and there. Year to year, ODUNDE invites and hosts dignitaries from African nations, here, in an attempt to facilitate these relationships.”

Further information on ODUNDE’s programs publications and calendar of events may be obtained by calling the ODUNDE office at (215-732-8510) or by visiting: http://www.odundefestival.org.

Sponsors of this year’s activities include, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund, Keystone Mercy Health Plan, Pennsylvania Lottery, Philadelphia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Universal Companies, University of Pennsylvania Medicine and Wells Fargo.

ODUNDE Origin

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.”

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Oshunbumi Fernandez
ODUNDE
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