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Photo by Anthony Gebrehiwot.

This Is What Toronto's 2018 AfroChic Festival Looked Like

AfroChic Cultural Arts Festival is not just any annual festival—it's very black and filled with immense pride.

If you have not already, you should visit Toronto, Canada or at least start looking into flights. Toronto is a vibrant city that is bursting at the seams with creativity. Basically, the whole city is a vibe, but during the annual AfroChic Cultural Arts Festival, the city really proved that it is truly special.

When I got off the elevator at the CarlU, I was thrusted into another world. It was a mix of Wakanda meets a magical rainforest. Before checking in at the registration table, a live band dipped into Bob Marley's timeless catalogue and life size paintings of beautiful black women lined the room. Before I knew it, I was headed to the market that hosted all the vendors. I literally spent all my cash on black owned products. Some of my favorite vendors were Mamas Life Products (I basically bought all their shampoo and vanilla scented shea butter), Eyeni, JV Accessories, Anna Fora and Stolen from Africa.

The AfroChic Festival is not just any annual festival, it is very black and filled with immense pride. Attendees don't just pull up looking regular. They show out.


Photo by Anthony Gebrehiwot.


One of my favorite acts of the night had to be Trap Yoga Bae, who walked us through various ratchet affirmations and VERY Black yoga poses such as how to "back that ass up like Juvenile into a downward facing dog pose" or the "secure the bag pose." She was entertaining and I felt represented in so many ways.

The hosts for the evening were none other than, Femi Lawson and Amanda Parris. They are staple voices in the city and it was a proud moment for all of us to watch them introduce a star-studded line up and the festival's headliner, DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown a.k.a Erykah Badu. The artists who took the stage have been carving out their own lanes both locally and internationally. We saw performances from Shi Wisdom, 11:11, Jayd Ink and then Ms. Badu played a DJ set that really made us all feel present. As I looked around there wasn't a single person standing still.

Day two of the festival consisted of the most beautiful weather, a panoramic view of the city, a panel discussion and an intimate conversation with Ms. Erykah Badu. Yes—she spent two full days with us. The panel discussion covered so many things. My notebook was filled with resources and companies I will surely be looking into. The panelists were diverse in terms of the type of work they do, but one of my favorites was Lauren Simmons, who recently took social media by storm with her story of being the youngest black woman to work for the New York Stock Exchange. She was very sweet, articulate and wise beyond her years. I still cannot believe she is 23 years old.

The room was attentive and calm. Everyone showed up to learn something new about building generational wealth, themselves or the community as a whole. Some guests greeted friends with emphasized shrieks of happiness and hugs filled with love. I think I saw a softer side to the city on this day. There was honesty and a lot of vulnerability. I saw young black men thank Erykah Badu for her contributions, a few women shared their personal stories and many sat within the stillness that could only be felt if you were really tapped into the moment. Ms. Badu reminded us that we are all human. What is for us will present itself when the time is right. She is a nurturer and I felt as though parts of me were healed simply by being in her presence.

That said, AfroChic is a festival you do not want to miss! See you next year?

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In photos: the Malian singer performed a stunning show at The Town Hall.

Fatoumata Diawara played a mesmerizing show in New York City over the weekend.

The Malian singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor had The Town Hall swaying to a selection of songs from her latest Grammy-nominated album, Fenfo, as well as other classic cuts.

Fatoumata was joined on the night by a four-piece backing band that followed her every word and guitar riff, as she showcased her special blend of traditional Malian music and striking Bambara vocal melodies with elements of modern rock, funk, R&B and afrobeat.

"I didn't want to sing in English or French because I wanted to respect my African heritage," Fatoumata has mentioned."But I wanted a modern sound because that's the world I live in. I'm a traditionalist, but I need to experiment, too. You can keep your roots and influences but communicate them in a different style."

Fatoumata's main message, one which she stated throughout the show, is one of hope for the future of Africa and of female empowerment. It's "about the world, peace, how Africa can be a better place, especially for women, because I am one, and I am a survivor," she says. "I want to encourage those who have lost hope."

Browse through pictures from her show at The Town Hall, which was opened by Guatemala's Gabby Moreno, below.

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