THE ODUNDE FESTIVAL

THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN FESTIVAL SEES THOUSANDS GATHER TO CELEBRATE ODUNDE FESTIVAL, WHICH IS A TRIBUTE TO THE YORUBA PEOPLE OF NIGERIA

The Odunde Festival held in Philadelphia, on Sunday situated on 23rd and South Street, all stood still for African food, dances, songs, crafts, antique masks and sculptures oh and drums too. For five hours, tribute was paid and African culture was experienced; starting back in 1975 with an aim to celebrate Yoruba culture, has now evolved to become an African-American festival that celebrates rich culture through entertainment (We do parties better). You know Yoruba people can throw a party for any reason, even to celebrate the success of another party. 

Odunde would not have survived 42 years if it had not been for God, so that’s why [the procession] hasn’t changed. We follow the same blueprint, we’ve never deviated”
— Oshunumi Fernandez- Odunde CEO

The annual event hosts about 500,000 attendees; it is also said to be the largest African-American street festival in the US. Amidst the jollification (i'm imagining an inexhaustible amount of jollof rice), the festival always starts out with a tribute to the Yoruba deity, Oshun. 

This particular festival started by Miss Lois Fernandez so many years ago. It was based on the Nigerian culture, and she decided to bring that culture from Africa to here to South Philadelphia, but more specifically to the city of Philadelphia as a whole, so people could experience that Nigerian culture, the food, the clothing and all the things that come along with it.
— Kenytta Johnson, City Councillor

Oshun (known as Ochún or Oxúm in Latin America) also spelled Ọṣun, is an orisha, a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Ifá and Yoruba religions. She is one of the most popular and venerated orishas. Oshun is a Nigerian Yoruba deity of the river and fresh water, luxury and pleasure, sexuality and fertility, and beauty and love. She is connected to destiny and divination. She is the patron saint of the Osun River in Nigeria, which bears her name. Oshun is honored at the Osun-Osogbo Festival a two-week-long annual festival, usually in August, at the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove on the banks of the Osun River, Nigeria; and now at the Odunde Festival in June, at South Philadelphia.

It’s important for the culture. It’s important for us to express ourselves. And it’s important to give back to the entrepreneurs who are out here working hard, and bringing us all the treats and stuff that we tried.
— Aisha Ahmed, West Philadelphia

Talk about a modern approach to cultural preservation!