Africa celebrates some of the world’s most popular festivals. With its diverse arts and cultures, Africa’s peoples show amazing ways how they preserve their varied heritages, arts and ideas. So here are some of Africa’s most interesting festivals.

Film and more….

FESPACO, Africa’s biggest Film Festival

Every two years in March the FESPACO takes place in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.  The Pan-African Film and television festival  has become the leading cultural event in Africa. All African professionals, stars, talents and film enthuisiasts rush to Ouagadougou to show their work and discuss industry-related challenges

When did FESPACO start?

It was in 1969 when the film festival has been initiated to promote African storytellers and  filmmakers. Not more than 20 movies were shown, but it was a beginning with high hopes. In 2017, FESPACO received 1,000 submissions, more than every previous year. 200 movies were shown. 20 films were are up for the top award – the Golden Stallion of Yennega, a trophy with a cash prize of 20,000,000 CFA francs ($32,000). The trophy reminds of the legendary founder of the Mossi kingdom. Some European nations who have been involved in the colonization of the African continent are now sponsoring the festival including Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, even China is supporting the festival.

No picture at Fespaco 2017 seems to be making as much a splash on the festival enthusiasts as The African Storm, a film by Beninese director Sylvestre Amoussou. The film tells the story of an African president who nationalises businesses run by cynical Western executives. “It’s not an anti-European film, but a film against the governments of states that exploit us,” Amoussou told the AFP news agency. With its provocative message the movie connected very well with its Fespaco audience. The screening received many shouts of approval.

Most African filmmakers have learned their profession in Europe, but their subjects are related to African topics: poverty and hunger in the east of the continent, terror in the northern states, emigration, child soldiers and crime stories from South Africa. Usually Western donors fund African filmproductions that favour themes on a “miserable Africa”.

What about the African Audience?

There is no doubt, who is hungry will not buy a ticket. A ticket costs as much as seven sandwiches, that are offered in the food stalls around the festival hall. And also, who is familiar with the problems shown in the movies because he struggles with it every day won’t watch them on screen. That’s why most of the movies aren’t shown in African cinemas, they end up in European art film cinemas. But there is a change in African movie making, anyway. It is promoted by the digital film making. With digital techniques movies can be produced at much lower costs. That’s also the reason why more African producers tend to make just entertaining films. For example: Guy Kalou from Côte d’ Ivoire tells in his movie  Et si Dieu n’existait pas?  just an entertaining love story.

FESPACO in Times of Terror

Over the last two years, Burkina Faso has been attacked by islamistic terrorists. Poverty, low education and the unfair distribution of the country’s wealth  lead to social unrest and the growing influence of radical islamistic groups. They attack churches, schools and all forms of western entertainment.  In 2016 they have killed  more than  30 visitors in hotels and restaurants of Ouagadougou, and also two police posts came under attack. Since then the festival has changed. Organisers had to reassure the public over security.

Military and security forces had to secure the entrances of the festival hall and theaters. Permanent checks and controllings spoiled the festival atmosphere. Most of the  guests and celebrities were demonstrating serenity, they celebrated the movies and enjoyed the parties and festivities.

And there was much to see and to celebrate in 2017. The winner of the “Etalon d’or” 2017 was not the acclaimed film The African Storm Sylvestre Amoussou but the film Félicité by the Senegalese director Alain Gomis. His story is set in Kinshasa,  the cosmopilitan heart of the Congo, where the modern and the traditional Africa exist side by side. The singer Félicité struggles through to jungle of Kinshasa to raise money for the treatment of her son, who has been severely hurt in an accident.

What makes the film worth seeing besides the fantastic actors: the band shown in Félicité exists in reality, and also you will meet again the members of the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra.