Panafrican Festival (1969)

The second Panafrican festival starts this Sunday in Algiers.  I will be posting more about this event in the coming days, but you can read about it here. It is hard to believe that this edition comes 40 years after the first one, and it will be interesting to find out how the two events compare. Back in 1969, Algeria and most countries in Africa were still celebrating their newly recovered independence.  Other countries such as South Africa, Mozambique or Angola were engaged in a struggle that had become a rallying cause throughout the continent and beyond. The mood of the era was infused with a militant Third-world spirit that contributed to the success of the festival. All those who had the privilege of being there remember an intense feeling of communion while listening and watching all these artists, poets, musicians, singers, and writers. It felt good to be African that summer.  Unfortunately, very little is available today about that event.  Here is a couple of videos of the Syli Orchestre National of Guinea during the festival

There is also a famous recording of Archie Shepp made during the festival.
Live_at_the_Pan-African_Festival

You can listen to the recording here and read more about it here and  here.

In parallel to the cultural activities, the 1969 festival was also an opportunity for many revolutionary groups to meet. All the African and third-world liberation movements of the period had representatives in Algiers at that time. Also present were members of the American Black Panthers whose leader, Eldridge Cleaver, was living in exile in Algeria. On the occasion of the festival, the Algerian government sponsored a movie by William Klein devoted to Eldridge Cleaver. The movie was never released commercially, it seems, but it can be watched here:

You can also read an interesting commentary (in French) on that movie  here (first part) and then here (second part).
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1 Comment

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One response to “Panafrican Festival (1969)

  1. James Gibbs

    Hello, I was interested in this. Have you seen The Journal of New African Literature and the Arts vols 7/8? That joint issue covered the 1969 Festival and includes some papers. I am editing a book on African theatre (at) Festivals and there were some productions put on in Algiers 1969. Can you, please, point me to information about the productions put on in 2009?

    JG

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