The Caribbean and Black communities are circulating a petition over the City of Toronto restricting Afrofest from a two-day event to a one day “do you thing in the park.”
Afrofest and Caribbean cultural proponents are demanding a return to the two-day event, including Trinidad and Tobago’s Muthadi who is drumming out the message “We ent taking none a dat!”
The Camera was told on Tuesday about the city placing the limitation on Afrofest at Woodbine Park which organizers say will not only make it difficult to organize a viable festival but also hinder its growth and community impact.
The reason the city has given is that there was too much sound emanating from the event, the largest free African Music Festival in North America.
Held annually, Afrofest takes place the first weekend of July at Woodbine in the heart of Toronto. It was started in 1989 with full support by top Caribbean artists.
“Hey, Mayor John Tory, remember when you and your team came looking for the Black vote at Afrofest … .just wondering if you are aware of the marginalization, dare we say, discrimination coming out of City Hall, again with regards to the same Afrofest,” said Lucy Hamlet who sees this action as disrespect.
“Somehow, Mr. Mayor I feel you already know of the impact in the city. I am certain you felt this energy, even during your frenzied visit that day. I am pretty sure it is why Afrofest was one of the key stops on your ‘Black’ campaign trail,” Hamlet stressed.
She said now that the election is long gone, “some of your constituents , the same ones you sought out and won over at Afrofest on your journey to the mayoral office, are now imploring you to show us what that vote truly meant.
“As a community we are calling on you to restore Afrofest to its full stature as a two-day festival of impact in the city. We have a right to express ourselves culturally and it is beginning to feel more and more that the city does everything in its power to keep our expressions of African / Black cultural identity on the fringes.
“Can you, and more importantly, are you willing to prove us wrong?” Hamlet pleaded.
In a press release Afrofest said, “The reasons given are that permissible sound levels and permitted time frames were exceeded in previous festivals. Afrofest organizers maintain that these allegations are inaccurate.
“The sound company we employ works with most of the events at Woodbine Park, including Canada Day and Beaches Jazz Festival concerts and use the same sound equipment, crew and sound levels.
“This seems in complete contradiction to Toronto’s official Music City (reputation),” said Peter Toh, president of Music Africa, the organizers of Afrofest.
Music Africa is calling on all the supporters of Afrofest to write, phone or email City Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-392-1376 and the mayor at email@example.com or 416-397-2489 to express concerns about their decision.