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Africa Oye - hot hot hot

The city took the continent's riches to its bosom at the weekend. Have a look through the lens of Mark McNulty

Written by . Published on June 20th 2011.

Africa Oye - hot hot hot

THE weather played ball, and in a massive grassy field so did many of the people.

While before the main stage, thousands more got their kicks watching a dozen of the world's top Africa-inspired acts. 

In between, the ethnic clothing stalls and the wafts of smoke from jerk chicken barbecues (and other things) all conspired to make the 19th annual Africa Oye festival, in Sefton Park, the hottest free ticket in town.

Last year the festival brought out more spectators than ever. Now preliminary figures from festival organisers indicate this year has tied that, as 50,000 visitors joined in the festivities over the course of the weekend. 

You nearly had to pay for this one, people. Oye has really turned a corner in the last couple of years and numbers doubled in 2010, taking organisers by surprise. Tickets, extra fencing and security was deemed needed this time around.

Festival-goers were told they would have to pay £5 admission, a decision which was later withdrawn after the council coughed up some cash. Well the Oye did pump an estimated £1.3m into the city's economy last year.

"We wanted to keep it free," organiser Paul Duhaney said, so merchandise and bucket collections did the rounds.

Dsc_3697Fatoumata DiawaraHeadlining this year on the Saturday was reggae legend Marcia Griffiths, she of Young Gifted and Black, but the roster also included the brilliant Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, Western Sahara’s Mariem Hassan plus performers from Senegal. Zimbabwe, Angola – all over the shop really.

From humble roots as a small indoor event in 1992, Oye has grown to a full-scale outdoor festival that people from the whole city and way beyond embrace. It's become a big date, not only the city's cultural calendar but on Liverpool's feelgood to-do list.

"Thank you to everyone who helped make this year's festival such a huge success. We're thrilled at the support this festival continually receives from the Liverpool community and are looking forward to our th20 anniversary next year already," Paul added.

The nature of the audience is a real cross-section of everyone and anyone and I think that is the beauty of it.

Of course, the other beauty of it is the selection of excellent pictures we have here, which capture the spirit and the colour of the weekend in Sefton Park.

They are reproduced with the kind permission of the man who took 'em: one of Liverpool's best known music and fashion photographers, Mark McNulty.

Have a look at the few below, and then see some more on his website here and here, with more to come up through the week.

Did you go? Do you wish you'd gone?

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