Updated: Jun 6, 2018
Dedicated to celebrating the ever-growing wealth of Africa’s cultural heritage, and with a diverse program of exhibitions, workshops, DJs and live performances, Evora Africa will be brought to Portugal for the first time from May 25 – August 25, 2018.
Hosted at the historic Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval, this remarkable festival remains a rare and little-known gem. It’s enchanted setting is an integral part of what makes Evora Africa so unique; with this year’s festivities set among the sprawling palatial grounds of a 14th century castle manor and beside the stunning ruins of a Roman Temple. It may be the only festival ever to have taken place on a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one which is almost two thousand years old.
The Palace will house a number of carefully curated exhibitions which showcase important works by leading artists and photographers from across Africa, while the musical programme will immerse the Palacio Cadaval in the unmistakable, foot-stomping rhythms of the African continent. Evora Africa’s vast line-up is made all the more unique as alongside the numerous list of musicians and DJs there will be performances given by storytellers and griots, rituals and folk dances, as well as interactive workshops with choreographers and musicians, lectures, conferences and much, much more.
As this riot of colour and sound descends upon the ancient town of Évora, Nelson Makossa, of the inimitable DJ duo Irmãos Makossa and a founding member of the Afromats movement, is also set to fire up the proceedings. For those that are yet to know, Irmãos Makossa are two friends, fellow DJs, researchers, crate-diggers and deep-break-excavators of African music from the 1970s and beyond. In 2008 they decided to combine their tastes and bring their knowledge to the public. For the last decade Makossa have been lighting up venues across Lisbon, though they have also featured at FMM Sines, Boom Festival, Vodafone Mexefest, Lisboa Mistura Festival, Meo Out Jazz, and contribute mixtapes to a number of radio stations, such as Antena 3, RDP Africa and Groovalizacion.
Irmãos Makossa’s motto is simply to celebrate, with joy and with scorching rhythms, the very best Africa has to offer. However, their sets often achieve much more than this alone. Spinning together their eclectic mix of Afrosoundz, drawing upon everything from Highlife to Funaná to Semba, Soukous and Chimurenga, they also tell the story of a journey across Africa, of a vast and disparate land with many voices and many styles, and of how powerfully the music of this continent has influenced, shaped, and shook genres the world over. This story is taking place in their music, as they draw upon their immense material and knowledge of African music.
It is this which grants the performances of Irmãos Makossa such a rare quality. As they draw upon the full breadth of Africa’s musical heritage they are capable of making connections in their mixes that others may miss; connections between the music of Africa and the music of hip-hop, house, rock’n’roll (the list goes on); and fundamentally, the connection between Africa’s intangible, mythic past and it’s multiple, fresh modern-day expressions. In those rhythmic repetitions, as 70s Highlife horns punch in over the familiar thump of an 808 kick drum, Makossa’s music renews this connection between the past and the present Africa; between African music and almost every other genre on Earth.
The inauguration of the Festival on May 25 is symbolic, as it is set to coincide with Africa Day. Above all, Evora Africa, like Irmãos Makossa, wish to draw much-needed attention to the fundamental influence that Africa has had, and continues to have, upon the history of music and art across the globe.
To find out more about the event, visit the Evora Africa website here.
And, if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, then make sure you don’t miss Irmãos Makossa at the Cadaval Palace on Saturday 9th (10pm, Afro Bal) and Sunday 10th June (11am, Afro Brunch). We’ll see you there!