Musical shows, ballets, theatre, art exhibitions and seminars, traditional wrestling and street entertainment are featured in this annual festival with performances by Paco Diaz and Tony Essamaye (provisional programme here).
This is an unmissable event for lovers of traditional music from West Africa and specifically from Casamance. Representatives from the villages of the Fogny region and neighbouring countries such as the Gambia and Guinea Bissau as well as European villages twinned with Abene will be invited.
In a beautiful and fertile region of Senegal, this festival offers the opportunity of enjoying a wide variety of music, dance and theatre performances by outstanding professional and traditional artists in a friendly and relaxed community atmosphere.
Located by the Atlantic Ocean northwest of Casamance in southern Senegal and just across the border from the Gambia, Abene is a lovely village with a mixed population composed of Mandinkas, Jolas, Karoninkas, Fulanis and other African ethnic groups. Most locals live from farming (groundnut, rice, millet, vegetables and livestock) and fishing in a traditional village harmony. This traditional life in which diversity and community were combined has inspired the idea of organising a festival of cultural and artistic exchange under the name of Abene Festivalo.
First organised by the Foundation EURAFRIKA (Holland) from 1994 to 1998, Abene Festivalo was taken over by the Youth Association of Abene as the annual cultural event which celebrates the richness of its tradition. This event coincides with the harvest season which in itself is a traditional festive period for the locals who are directly involved in the preparation for the festival. Initially this project aimed to create a space of gathering and celebration which would facilitate fraternal reconciliation and mutual tolerance between the different ethnic groups in Casamance and foster happy and peaceful coexistence. Today it is also a way to generate a cultural arena of Senegal in Casamance which presents the various identities of the country, including those still unknown to many visitors, by inviting renowned international artists as well as local musicians and foreign bands influenced by African culture. The festival is locally acting and raising awareness in the areas of health, ecology, education, culture and sports, hence contributing to social, cultural and economic development in the region. Seminars also inform foreign visitors about local culture and tradition, as well as some of the problems specific to the village of Abene. Year on year people are coming in numbers and from diverse areas of the globe and support the village and its surroundings by bringing in currencies and initiating aid actions. The main objectives are to promote the region as an undiscovered and unique tourist destination, and to develop responsible and sustainable initiatives helping to reduce poverty whilst preserving the authenticity and natural beauty of the area.