Best practices of the acpcultures+ programme: FAFI, The African traveling festival

The African Traveling Festival has shown that there exists a strong demand from the public for African content.   

The African Traveling Festival consists in producing and exporting one of the oldest African music festivals, the Africa Fête Festival, to four countries, three of them African. The FAFI has gathered over 50,000 spectators.

Daba Sarr, who runs this project and is the president of Tringa Music and Development, says: “Africa Fête does not only represent a festival; it is above all a development project for African music. This initiative allows for training, production, promotion, diffusion, and creation in the music sector. Thus, the FAFI’s objective is to promote new African talents, favour collaborations between artists, promote the diversity of African music, facilitate the accessibility of concerts for the general public, and guide the professionalization of cultural players in the hope of contributing to the economic, cultural, and social development of the African continent.”

In the last three years, the FAFI has known 6 editions (one in Senegal in 2013, two in Cameroon and Benin in 2014, three in France, Cameroon, and Senegal in 2015), has had 183 programmed musical bands, involved over 1000 artists and cultural professionals, has held concerts, professional gatherings, workshops, exhibits, master classes, an associative village, an artisan market (Christmas market), film screenings…

The artistic residency is one of its principal activities and was held in four stages during the six editions of the FAFI. It gathered over thirty artists from the countries it visited, including Senegal, Cameroon, Benin, and France. The project allowed for around thirty artists and professionals within African culture to travel through Africa (Senegal, Benin, Cameroon) and Europe (France) while exchanging with a new public, and allowing new musical forms to be discovered in West Africa, East Africa, and Europe. This experience also allowed for different work experiences to be confronted to one another, the exchange of knowledge and expertise, the transfer of skills, a better grasp of networking, the beginning of partnerships, and the transfer and/or amassing of expertise.


Concerning the artistic program’s choices, each of the partners decides on their own program, which is proposed to Tringa Music and Development. Each of the partners demonstrates a willingness to ensure great musical diversity and give priority to young talents: out of the programmed 75 bands, a great majority are women and young artists who fall into musical styles representative of current music: fusion (modern and traditional), hip hop, bikutsi, mbalax, R’n’B, afrojazz, reggae, world music, and acoustic…

Thanks to the success of these events (artistic residencies, concerts…), partnerships between Senegal and Cameroon have been renewed even after the end of the ACPCultures+.

Raising awareness

The FAFI project has contributed to raising awareness for Africa Fête and its’ partners not only at the level of the African continent, but also in France. “The project has been an argument for the credibility of our associations with regards to communities, institutions, partners, and professions of the cultural sector, media, and general public. Thanks to the organized annual gatherings and exchanges as well as the transparency of its actions, Africa Fête has gained the trust of its partners, who respond to the association’s every invitation. We have even had important bank facilities as partners, something which is quite rare in Africa when it comes to a cultural project,” says Daba Sarr.

Africa Fête is on Senegal and the city of Marseille’s national tourist and cultural agenda. It is now an annual musical gathering highly awaited by cities.

The festival’s partners are present at the gatherings organized by the state and/or Senegal’s Ministry of Culture and Communication in order to strategize to develop the country’s cultural sector. The Ministry of Culture of each visited country—beyond their financial support—have been heavily involved with the FAFI.

Thanks to the success of the FAFI project and to a broad communication platform within the frame of its production, Africa Fête is sought out by several administrations who wish to organize concerts in their towns or region.  

Structuring the African music sector

The FAFI has participated in the structuring of the African music sector, notably by favouring cultural and economic exchanges between the zones of West Africa and Central Africa. The artists and carriers of around ten countries have been involved: Senegal, Benin, Cameroon, France, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, DRC, Congo Brazza, Antilles, Brasil, Mali…

Participating in the FAFI has allowed for exponential awareness-raising for the career and notoriety of artists. That is to say that more than 30 musical bands have participated in other cultural manifestations and have been invited to other festivals in Europe and Africa.

“The FAFI has contributed to structuring the music sector in Africa by offering training and reinforcing capacities. Artists, cultural players/professionals, and structures have had to form and strengthen their capacities. Creation of jobs, the harmonisation of work methods, the mutualisation of expertise, and the exchange, all contribute to the success of the FAFI,” reaffirms Daba Sarr.

The public has been a large and diverse one: particularly young when it came to popular concerts, and reaching all ages at galas and more private concerts. Children were very accounted for, notably in the associative village of Marseille. The traveling festival in Senegal visited regions known to be remote such as Tambacounda (towards the Mali border) or Casamance in the south of Senegal. The editions showcased both very promising young artists and others, already more famous in their countries (i.e.: Benin’s Sessimè, who played for the first time in Senegal, Cameroon, and in France), as well as confirmed artists who agreed to sponsor the events (such as Ismaël Lo in Cameroon or Ray Lema in France).


Daba Sarr explains it as such: “The FAFI project has demonstrated that there exists a strong demand from the public, the artists, and the partners and producers to continue this adventure on the African continent and elsewhere. Other producers from other countries (such as Italy, Gabon, and Guinea) have offered to welcome the next editions. Benin, Senegal, and France regularly welcome the festival, and would like to keep holding it in their countries. This is how we envision Africa Fête and its traveling project to live on.”

It is important to stress that the project has contributed to the development of the artists’ good practices. “In each country, the programmed artists and musical bands have signed a service agreement and have been paid at the latest on the day of their performance. Their artist rights have been declared and payed. The formal character of the festival has been praised: press conferences, programmed interviews, signed contracts, equipped changing rooms, catering, and the quality of the technical materials, transport, and reception. In France, each artist has received a payslip and obtained prior consent to work,” concludes the Festival’s president. 


More best practices HERE

January 6, 2017
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