Fest Afrika, an African music and dance festival, was founded in 2002 by the Tanzanian drummer and dancer Menard Mponda. As a part of the first Fest Afrika, Mponda worked along Sanna Tyyri-Pohjonen in organizing a performance tour by the children’s group Usinga World Centre to benefit street children from Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The children’s group had a chance to perform in Tampere at the same time as the African dance association Cheza Ngoma was to celebrate its 5th anniversary.
Mponda collaborated with Aliko Mwakanjuki and Cliff Ogutu, as well as members of Cheza Ngoma, to build a larger event named Fest Afrika. Staff of the culture house Telakka gave support for arranging the festival. Later a separate association was founded to oversee the festival arrangement, although the group of organizers has remained more or less the same. Mponda has been the festival´s artistic director from the beginning. In July 2011, the 10th anniversary festival was organized.
Fest Afrika has been a very important tool for the Finnish society as a whole, as well as individual communities. It has brought many groups of people together in many ways; people from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Finland, and Europe have been able to work together musically and culturally as one multicultural community. This festival has brought together people of different cultures, ethnicities, ages, and genders.
The annual event consists of several main components, including workshops for children and adults, seminars in cooperation with Tampere University, performances by African percussion and dance groups, concerts and painting courses for children, art exhibitions, and fair trade associations offering goods from around the world.
The main objectives of Fest Afrika are to promote African performing arts through education and entertainment, to create an awareness of African culture in Finland, and to provide a positive influence for the next generation by bringing communities together and giving opportunities for those who intend to collaborate between both minority and majority populations. Fest Afrika has been an amazing meeting place that has provided a supportive multicultural atmosphere for the development of numerous projects based on the strong and effective link between Finland and Africa.