Artists perform at the 2020 Yukon African Music Festival.

This year’s virtual Yukon African Music Festival will feature players performing from South Africa and across Canada.

“To accommodate people from different places and share with us, as we celebrate Black History Month in the Yukon, is a great thing,” said Leonard Boniface, event organizer.

The free festival will take place on Feb. 20 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with event registration open on Eventbrite. The concert will be streamed live on Zoom.

Approximately 10 performers will contribute to a mixed catalogue of entertainment and education. Jessica Mbangeni, a praise poet and musician famous in South Africa, and Maju Maju Dladla, a South African musician based in Vancouver, are part of the lineup.

“These are Grammy winners, so we have reason to appreciate that Yukon can have an opportunity to have these individuals performing in our festival,” Boniface said.

The festival takes place during Black History Month. Dladla said the month provides the opportunity to acknowledge the stories of Black people in North America.

“(Black History Month) teaches about the struggle that African people have gone through — 400 years of slavery (in the United States), and we are still going through issues now. … To remember what African people have been through plays a big part in it for myself, and other people too. It teaches other cultures about who we are.”

“We’re going to display the history of Black people in the Yukon. We have been here for many many years, generations, so we are not guests, we are part of the community, we belong to Canada.”

The festival will also feature Yoro Noukoussi, a multi-instrumentalist from North Benin. Noukoussi teaches West African rhythm drumming in Vancouver and is a master of donga (talking drum), kokomba (congas) and djembe (a goblet-shaped drum particular to West Africa).

Yukon-based performers on the docket include Kongo King, Augustus & Band and Roxx Hunter.

The virtual platform has allowed for more musicians and spectators across the globe to take part in the festival, Boniface said. About 100 people have already registered online, and he is hoping this year will attract a wide audience.

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