Los Angeles- Hundreds gathered on the People’s Street in Leimert Park on a recent Saturday to partake in the spirit filled celebration of Day of Ancestors: Festival of Masks, presented by LA Commons. This years festival highlighted Brazil and its diasporic artistic connections to Leimert Park. Salvador DE Bahia has the second largest Black population in the world outside of Nigeria.
The spirit of the Ancestors could be felt. The celebration occurred on another picture perfect day, in beautiful Southern California. The diverse crowd demonstrated enthusiasm as the positive energy flowed throughout Leimert Park for the event.
An eclectic mix of World music was played as people gathered on the People’s Street to put the finishing touches on their masks, floats, costumes for the Procession.
Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks is held every year in June, in conjunction with the monthly Leimert Park Art Walk. Leimert Park Art Walk promotes the area’s vibrancy, culture, legacy and economy.
The theme for the 2018 Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks was “Asuwada” a Yoruba principle describing an energetic phenomenon that arises when a community unites with a collective positive intention in pursuit of a common goal for the greater good. Asuwada highlights the importance of compassion and solidarity in a time of unprecedented divisiveness.
The program got underway with a traditional African Libation/Blessing with Baba Imodoye Shabazz, speaking in Yoruba, Spanish and English. Marcus Aquilar, Anahuacalmecac Danza Azteca recited a Prayer in Spanish.
The Blessing and Prayer were followed by an hour long Procession around Leimert Park with various categories: Ancestors, Justice, Peace & Love, Health and Unity.
The participants in the Processions consisted of the Queen Mothers, Kehinde, Anahuacalmecac Danza Azteca, Los Angeles Carnival, Kouman Kele West African Dance & Drum Ensemble, Viver Brasil, Magatte Fall & Generation Percu and the Twin Puppets.
Viver Brasil dancers Rachel Hernandez and Ashley Blanchard accompanied by drummers Kahlil Cummings and Luiz Badera performed Oia/Iansa- Orixa of Winds & Storms and Ancestors.
Drummer Magatte Falls & Generation Percu delighted and thrilled the audience with their master drumming techniques.
Kouman Kele West African Dance & Drum Ensemble led by Nzingha Camara put on a high-octane, powerful show that left the crowd and I in awe and wanting to see more of their splendid artistry.
The Queen Mothers performance were also a real treat along with Kehinde. The festival concluded with a massive, thunderous drum circle led by Kahlil Cummings, members of Viver Brasil, and the community in keeping with this year’s theme “Asuwada.”