This year World Village Festival was lucky with the weather. The last weekend of May in Helsinki was sunny and warm, and as many as 80 000 people visited this free event comprising discussions, music, food and information. Only two days later the temperature was dropped down to 7 degrees (Celcius) by a chilly northeastern wind.
I went on Sunday particularly to hear Hugh Masekela, a South African trumpeter, composer and singer. I missed his performance in Helsinki Festival last summer, but now I had the opportunity to hear this pioneer of African jazz.
The groovy beat appealed to the body; hundreds of hips and hands moved rhythmically in front of the Savannah stage as the 75-year-old Masekela sang and played trumpet with his band. He played music mostly from his latest album, Playing @ Work.
Masekela is also a well known figure in the fight for a more just world, and we heard not only music but also propaganda for peace, equality and tolerance.
In addition to music performances and informational programme, the festival offered poetry, street art, sports and kids’ programme. It is organized by Kepa, which is an umbrella organisation for nearly 300 NGOs. The 400 exhibitors and 60 food vendors included NGOs, educational institutions, governmental organisations and business. Since the first World Village festival in 1995, the event has been arranged yearly in Kaisaniemi Park, nowadays extended also onto the Railway Square.
After the show I went with my friend to the nice summer restaurant Kaisaniemi nearby. I have always liked that shady terrace with sounds of trains in spite of its rude service, highish prices and limited selection. There we could enjoy another show: a group of people, evidently of African origin, was singing probably in honour of a young mother and her newborn baby.
The event I attended: World Village Festival in Helsinki on 25 May, 2014.
See also a 3-minute-film by Adrian Steirn on YouTube (21 icons) extracting some highlights from the incredible life of Masekela: