Odunde Festival celebrates African tradition

The youth ensemble of Kulu Mele performs at Odunde. — PHOTO/ROBERT MENDELSOHN

Thousands came out to attend the 38th annual Odunde Festival Sunday in South Philadelphia. The day-long event featured arts and crafts vendors, African dancers and a performance by legendary rapper Big Daddy Kane.

The picture-perfect day provided a fitting backdrop for the festival. Held the second Sunday in June along Philadelphia’s historic South Street, the Odunde festival is based on Yoruba traditions and celebrates the coming of another year for African Americans and African people around the world with a procession, ceremonial offering and African marketplace, along with live music and dance.

Dozens of drummers, along with the aroma of various food treats, offered a taste of Africa and the opportunity to take home a symbolic piece of the Motherland in the forms of jewelry, fabric, clothes, oils or incense. Odunde attracts more than 500,000 people annually and is one of the largest community-based street festivals held in the country – and the last of its kind continuing in the Delaware Valley region.

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