African cultures

Sydney’s biggest celebration of African cultures and cuisines returns this weekend

After a two-year hiatus, Africultures Festival is back – and even bigger than before. For the first time, the African Community Festival – which celebrates the continent’s multitudes of cultures – will take over Sydney Olympic Park’s Cathy Freeman Park on Saturday 7 May.

The day-long festival will feature cultural workshops, including an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, and will host more than 30 stalls selling clothing, homewares, accessories and fabrics. On Kilimanjaro’s main stage, expect performances from local artists debuting new music, as well as dancers, drummers and DJs. “We want people to come and immerse themselves in African culture,” says Adama Kamara, one of the festival organizers. Large format.

Another highlight will be the fashion show, where anyone from the African community is invited to strut their stuff and show off their outfits for a prize. “Fashion is an important part of African culture. People will actually come up with an outfit design and have a tailor make it for the day of the festival,” Kamara explains. “Imagine traditional outfits and modern takes using materials that are truly vibrant and colorful.”

Besides all the culture, history and arts, there will – of course – be plenty of traditional dishes to try at the Nile Food Court, many of which cannot be found in any restaurant in Sydney. This year there will be 12 different food stalls representing the diverse cuisines of Africa. Here are Kamara’s top five picks on what to eat and where to go:

Chapati curry, Chapatis for Charity
Chapati, the unleavened bread made from flour, water and salt, is probably best known in Australia for being a staple of Indian cuisine, but it is also fundamental in East Africa. You’ll be able to pick up piles of them to pick up your choice of Sudanese Okra or Eggplant Stew by Sawsan’s Kitchen. All proceeds will go towards the construction of a community center for young people in Uganda.

Jollof Rice, Petit Lagos
Little Lagos is one of the few places in Sydney that serves Nigerian food. The restaurant team will draw on their roots to serve what is considered the national dish of their country: jollof rice. It is a festive dish consisting of long grain basmati rice cooked in tomato, bell pepper, habanero peppers and spices.

Fufu, Afro Kontry Cuisine
Nathaniel Ola-Roberts will concoct his grandmother’s recipes from Sierra Leone. On the menu, fufu (a fermented cassava boiled and pounded into a round paste) accompanied by a stew of bitter leaves.

Roadrunner Chicken Stew, Mainini Lashell’s Kitchen
Originating in Zimbabwe, the hearty chicken stew is traditionally made from fresh, uncaged chicken, slow cooked and spiced with chili, bell pepper, red and brown onion and various spices. It will be served with sadza, a porridge made from ground corn and water.

Mandazi, Food of Nywambi
Finish your African feast with Kenyan-style donuts made from a mixture of flour, milk and eggs with nutmeg and cinnamon. Enjoy them freshly fried by Gift Otieno for morning tea or dessert.

Africultures Festival takes place on Saturday 7th May from 10am to 6pm at Cathy Freeman Park, Olympic Boulevarde, Sydney Olympic Park. Admission is $5 plus reservation fee. Buy your tickets online here.