The 35th annual Odunde Street Festival, held the second Sunday in June, happens to be one of the largest African American street festivals in the United States. Located at 23rd and South Street, one of Philadelphia’s oldest historically African American neighborhoods, this festival brings a taste of Africa to the heart of the city.
On June 12, 2011, people from all over the world will come together and take in the sights, sounds and aromas of this unique outdoor experience. Music will fill the air with rhythmic, beating drums and the spicy bouquet of food simmering with authentic African spices on an outdoor grill, along with colorful African textiles and crafts are just a few of the fun activities that Odunde has to offer.
“Odunde,” which means “Happy New Year” in Yoruba, was established by Lois Fernandez, who started the festival after attending a similar celebration in Nigeria. Inspired by the promotion of unity, family values and spirituality, Fernandez decided to bring the experience to her community in Philadelphia. Now, more than three decades later, the festival continues to draw people from all over the world to enjoy the family reunion-like atmosphere.
Odunde Inc. is an educational and cultural organization that sponsors year-round programs featuring the African Diaspora as well as the annual Odunde Festival that is carried on by the daughter of the founder, Oshun Bumi Fernandez.
This year, the festival will begin with a procession to the Schuylkill River and move to 23rd and South Street for a celebration that will feature an abundance of history, culture, food and family-friendly activities.
For more information about the Odunde Festival, please visit www.odundefestival.org/.
–christa e. jackson