ODUNDE Celebrates 30 Years in Philadelphia; African-American Street Festival Draws 400,000 Each Year

PHILADELPHIA, May 24 /PRNewswire/ — In 1972, Philadelphia native Lois Fernandez made a life-changing pilgrimage to Nigeria, where she tasted the water of the Osun River, a body of water named to honor the deity of beauty, fertility and prosperity. Three years later, Fernandez used her newfound energy and excitement about her heritage to create ODUNDE, an African street festival that marks its 30th anniversary on June 12, 2005. What began as a small neighborhood event has blossomed into a major annual celebration, drawing 400,000 people each year and featuring 300 vendors from Africa and around the United States selling clothing, jewelry and other unique items.

ODUNDE, which means Happy New Year in Yoruba, a language indigenous to Nigeria, West Africa, begins at 12 noon with a procession to the Schuylkill River. Participants offer fruits and vegetables in hopes of being blessed for the New Year by the goddess Osun. The all-day event continues with performances by the Urban Bush Women, a Brooklyn-based performance ensemble, PHILADANCO, Philadelphia’s premier African-American dance company, and other local and national performers. At the festival, revelers also will find a wide-range of culinary delights from the Caribbean and Africa, including fried fish, peanut butter soup, fish stew and garri, a granular food commonly served with meals in West Africa.

“ODUNDE serves the need for cultural enrichment in the African-American community in Philadelphia,” said Lois Fernandez, board president and founder of ODUNDE. “When I created this event, I wanted people of African decent to understand that their heritage was something to be proud of and inspired by. Now, we draw people from all walks of life and that makes it better.”

Festival activities take place on South Street from 21st to 24th Streets and on Grays Ferry Avenue from South Street to Christian Street. For more information, call (215) 732-8510 or visit http://www.odundeinc.org/.

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