The Afrakaltural Symposium

Events and Venues for the Afrakan World


ODUNDE originates with the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa. It means "Happy New Year." The ODUNDE festival is an occasion marked by joy and hope, a joy which is highlighted by a colorful procession to the Schuylkill River (at noon) where offerings of fruits and flowers are made to Oshun, the Goddess of the River. The religion, called IFA, embraced by the Yoruba people is very old. It involves the worship of one God and 401 orishas. Included in its three tiers of worship is “ancestor remembrance” in the offering of libations, divinations and other such acts.

OSHUN is one of the orishas worshiped in the Ifa religion. She is one of the youngest orishas and is a female energy. As orisha of the river, she represents beauty, vanity, sensuality and attractiveness. Everyone is invited to participate in the revered processional to the river. The offerings to OSHUN is one of the sacred aspects of ODUNDE, During the processional to the river praise is given to all orishas, in the Yoruba language, especially to OSHUN. Oriki, (songs) are sung in a particular order with the BATA, special two headed drums used only for special occasions.

Once the processional reaches the bridge, incantations and prayers are offered in Yoruba. The Priest or Priestess ask OSHUN if our offerings are acceptable. Once a positive response is interpreted participants are given instructions to make their offerings.

The celebration then transforms into a joyous street fair centered at 23rd and South Streets, and continues down Grays Ferry Avenue. Complete with live music, dance performances, food, activities and an authentic African marketplace, the Odunde Festival covers more than 12 city blocks, bringing a celebration of Africa to South Street every June.

Umoja Karimu

Umoja Karamu, translated as "unity feast" in english, is a celebration initiated in 1971 by Dr. Edward Sims, Jr. Umoja Karamu is held on the fourth Sunday in November. Its purpose is to instill solidarity, Afrakan values, and appreciation of Afrakan heritage into Afrakan families. Prayers, libations to honor ancestors, historical readings, and feasts mark the observance.

The celebration is based on five significant periods of Afrakan life in America, each represented by a color.

1. Afrakan Sovereignty
Represents Afrakan family prior to the invasions and influence of Europeans and Arabs. The the color Black, is used to delineate the unity of the Afrakan people.

2. Maafa (Afrakan Holocaust)
Captivity of Afrakans during the Maafa. Symbolizes the scattering of black families during slavery and the attempted destruction of Afrakan culture.

3. Re-Emancipation of Afrakans in America
Self Emancipation. The fight against forced labor and captivity in the United States of America through revolts, Civil Rights and the Black Power movements. The color red is used to represent those who lived and died in service of liberation.

4. Struggle for Re-Afrakanization
National Liberation. The fight for decolonization of Afrakan countries the formation of the Organization for Afrakan Unity and the diasporac Afrakan liberation movements. The color green signifies the land and the struggle for Afrakan unification with cultural hegemony.

5. Envisioning the Afrakan Future
The Future of Afraka and Afrakans. Explemplified in The Afrakan Union, The African Socialist International, and The Sankofa Movement among others. Afrakan centered perspectives for the future. The color gold, points celebrants to plan and build for future posterity.


Kwanzaa is a Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. Celebrated from 26 December thru 1 January, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits" in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.

The first-fruits celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Kemet and Nubia and appear in ancient and modern times in other classical African civilizations such as Ashantiland and Yorubaland. These celebrations are also found in ancient and modern times among societies as large as empires (the Zulu or kingdoms (Swaziland) or smaller societies and groups like the Matabele, Thonga and Lovedu, all of southeastern Africa. Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African "first fruit" celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration. Kwanzaa,

First, Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm and restore our rootedness in African culture. It is, therefore, an expression of recovery and reconstruction of African culture. Secondly, Kwanzaa was created to serve as a regular communal celebration to reaffirm and reinforce the bonds between us as a people. It was designed to be an ingathering to strengthen community and reaffirm common identity, purpose and direction as a people and a world community. Thirdly, Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles.) These seven communitarian African values are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). This stress on the Nguzo Saba was at the same time an emphasis on the importance of African communitarian values in general, which stress family, community and culture and speak to the best of what it means to be African in the fullest sense.

African Liberation Day

ALD was founded in 1958 when Kwame Nkrumah convened the First Conference of Independent States held in Accra, Ghana and attended by eight independent African states. The 15th of April was declared "African Freedom Day," to mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.

Between 1958 and 1963 the nation/class struggle intensified in Africa. Seventeen countries in Africa won their independence and 1960 was proclaimed the Year of Africa. Further advances were made with the defeat of U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean. On the 25th of May 1963, thirty-one African Heads of state convened a summit meeting to found the Organization of African Unity (OAU). They renamed African Freedom Day "African Liberation Day" and changed its date to May 25th.

African Traditional Medicine Day

Celebrated August 31. After the adoption in 2000 of a resolution on promoting the role of traditional medicine in health systems by the regional health ministers in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, African Traditional Medicine Day was initated in 2003 under the theme "Traditional Medicine: Our Culture, Our Future." African Traditional Medicine Day was designed to raise the awareness and the profile of traditional medicines of Africa as well as promote their integration into national, continental and diasporac health systems.

Heroes' Day Namibia

Heroes' Day is a national holiday celebrated annually on 26 August in Namibia. The day commemorates the Namibian War of Independence which began on 26 August 1966 at Omugulugwombashe. Celebrations occur in different places, often in the northern regions of Namibia, near important battle zones. Thousands of people gather to watch leaders such as Sam Nujoma, Hifikepunye Pohamba and Nahas Angula bestow honours, such as military medals and officially commemorate veterans of SWAPO's military wing the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) for their heroic service during the war. A war memorial was establisheded on Heroes' Day in 2002 outside of Windhoek,named Heroes' Acre.

Dia da Consciência Negra

Dia da Consciência Negra (Day of Black Awareness) the annual event is held on November 20 in Brazil. The celebration is one of reflection upon the atrocities which incured during the captivity and enslavement of Africans and their resolve to self liberation and self governance. The day is marked as the anniversary of the death of Zumbi dos Palmares (1655–1695), the last leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares one of the independent African republics in Brazil. Part of a week long event of Black awareness celebrating the contributions to society by Brazilian citizens of African descent. Dia da Consciência Negra has been celebrated since the 1960s resulting in the 13th of May being recognized as a holiday commerating Brazil's abolishment of slavery.

Pearl of Africa

Pearl of Africa is one of Philadelphia's longest running cultural stores. Since 1994, Pearl of Africa has been in the forefront of upholding our proud cultural legacy through merchandise and various events such as Zion Train, Soul Cinema and African Independance Day. From African masks, to jewelry, clothing, books, Bob marley merchandise, reggae cds, incense, body oils, natural hair and skin care products, and much more, you'll find it all here under one roof!


Sandaga is a very distinct store in the Mt. Airy area of Philadelphia. It specializes in authentic West African jewelry and accessories; most of the pieces are handmade by the store's owner, who is happy to help customers with their clothing and jewelry needs. The store also sells numerous masks, fabrics and furniture, all in the West African style. Find it at 7130 Germantown Ave.

The Oracle

The Oracle book store located in Columbia, South Carolina houses a wide assortment of African merchadise. Retailing a large collection of traditional African atire, fabrics and books, the Oracle also sells jewelry and cosmetics. Displaying ornate statues, reliefs and artwork the Oracle is your one stop shopping for everything African.

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