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Festac '77: The 2nd World Festival of Black Arts and Culture


The 2nd World Festival of Black Arts and Culture

‘Colour has indeed always been a question of taste, not a question of judgement! […] But it is not colour that makes history, it is the People, through their consciousness and their ability to master time and space.’ Ahmed Sékou Toure, the first president of Guinea, knew exactly why FESTAC was of such importance for his people. People who society told not to be proud of their heritage and identity. After the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture got postponed twice – once because of the ongoing civil war in Nigeria, the next because the urban facilities for the festival were still under construction. In 1977 FESTAC, the largest pan-African cultural event, finally took place – and went down in history. Over the course of one month, more than 17,000 people from Africa as well as those living in the diaspora came to Lagos, united by only one desire: to celebrate with pride and dignity their arts and culture. Among the artists were legendary musicians Stevie Wonder, Sun Ra, Miriam Makeba and Gilberto Gil, to name just a few.

Together with Afterall Books, Chimurenga has succeeded in composing, arranging and reproducing a huge accumulation of archival material in just one (not small) book, ranging from newspaper articles, manuscripts, speeches, unseen photographs, floor plans – everything at all which can be associated with FESTAC ’77. This eclectic hotchpotch is not only a significant contemporary witness of Black Arts and Culture at the time but also a witness of our present time – the fact that even forty years later, we are still facing a world in which, sadly, the colour of our skin is misused as an indicator of who we might are.



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