Africa Festival Award (AFA)

Each year the Africa Festival gives the Africa Festival Award (AFA) to musicians and artists who are characterized by their extraordinary talent. Furthermore, it is awarded to institutions which have committed their work to Africa in a special way. The award is given during the official opening of the festival.


The winners of the Africa Festival Award 2024 Moh! Kouyaté & Fafa Ruffino with former Africa Festival Award winner (2013) Fatoumata Diawara – Photo: © Bugs Steffen

35 years of Africa Festival & Africa Festival Award 2024 

Before we get to the Africa Festival Award ceremony, Sarah said that I absolutely had to say something about “35 years of Africa Festival”. But don’t worry – I’ll keep it short. 

35 years – that’s a long time with many great musicians, dedicated companions and an enthusiastic audience. There have also been difficult times in these 35 years, such as the last flood disaster and the coronavirus pandemic, which we were fortunately able to overcome with a dedicated team and public support. A big THANK YOU to everyone for that! 

And now we come to the presentation of the Africa Festival Award 2024.  

The Africa Festival has always endeavoured to show the positive sides of Africa. Unfortunately, however, there are also negative traditions in Africa. One of these negative traditions is the genital mutilation of girls and women, which has serious health consequences. 

The Africa Festival has been campaigning against this tradition for many years and supports two schools that deal with this issue. One school was founded by kora player Sona Jobarteh in The Gambia. This was visited by the Federal President and myself in 2017. The other school was founded by the “Mama Afrika” association in Guinea under the leadership of Tiranke Diallo and her family. Both schools were financially supported by the Africa Festival Foundation. 

In these schools, parents and children are taught about the health consequences of this negative tradition at a very early age. Sona Jobarteh received the “Africa Festival Award” in 2018 and Tiranke Diallo in 2019 for this commitment.

This year, we want to honour two more artists who are committed to this issue. We have therefore commissioned a song from both of them, which will soon be distributed throughout Africa via the Federal Foreign Office’s social media. They will be presenting this song to you exclusively in a moment. 

Ladies and gentlemen: The “Africa Festival Award 2024” goes to Fafa Ruffino & Moh! Kouyaté !!!

May 2024


The winner of the Africa Festival Awards 2023 Thabilé from South Africa – Photo: © Bugs Steffen

Laudation OF the award winner Thabilé

Dear Africa Festival guests and friends,

Now we come to what is probably the most eagerly awaited part of our opening event: the presentation of this year’s “Africa Festival Awards”. For years now, artists and people have been honored who have distinguished themselves with their music, their social commitment or their appearance and work for Africa.

The list of winners of the predecessors ranges from Miriam Makeba and Manu Dibango to last year’s winner Angeliqué Kidjo. But artists who were still at the very promising beginning of their careers could also be happy about this special award. Gasandji, Sara Tavares, our fashion designer Rama Diaw and Daara J, who incidentally were the first prizewinners in 2001, are just a few of them.

I can already tell you one thing, according to one of the main themes of this year’s festival, the award winner will once again be a strong African woman! She has long been impressing audiences and fans with her great voice at festivals and concert halls. She even found her new home here in Germany. Her roots are in southern Africa, where she returns at least once a year to recharge her batteries and find new inspiration with her family and friends. She is not alone in this, but always accompanied by her life – and her music partner, with whom she writes and composes her pieces. But it is not only the music that accompanies and drives her, but also her social commitment. Whether in South Africa, in her place of birth, the township Dlamini in Johannesburg or here, in her immediate vicinity in the Stuttgart area, she campaigns for women’s rights, a good refugee policy or for better coexistence. She goes to schools and brings young people closer to their culture, discusses and eliminates common prejudices. So she always sets positive signs, whether musically or in dialogue, which have become more and more important in today’s world.

This year’s Africa Festival Award goes to our guest Thabilé!

May 2023


Laudation of the Winner Barbara Stamm

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Festival Guests

Our laureate this year – the secret will be revealed in a moment – has been active in the political scene for decades. And, even more, she has been deeply involved with a political office for our state of Bavaria for several years. Regardless of this, she has never missed or forgotten to support the Africa Festival when she could. A friendship and affection that has grown steadily over all the festival years, but which she has never made public. She is and was a good spirit in difficult times.

So we are all the more delighted to welcome her here today and to invite her warmly onto the stage. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for our “Africa Festival Award” laureate this year – the former President of the State Parliament, Ms Barbara Stamm! And thank you for your many years of support.

August 2021

Former President of the State Parliament Barbara Stamm – Photo: © Bugs Steffen


Chairwoman of Mama Afrika e. V. Tiranke Diallo and her sister Aminata – Photo: © Bugs Steffen

Laudation of the winner tiranke diallo

Ladies and gentlemen, dear festival guests!

We now come to the presentation of the “Africa Festival Award 2019”. As every year, we have made it our task to honour special artists or people, especially artists from the African continent, who have promoted more humanity, togetherness or understanding through their work and commitment. We are pleased to be able to present two award winners this time. You may have already met the first laureate if you have looked around the festival area in the last two years… She is actually not alone, but it is rather a “family business” that she and her brother continue after their mother passed away much too early. Her mother Hadja decided 9 years ago to do something against a tradition she herself was affected by and which unfortunately still exists today in her home country Guinea: female genital mutilation! With cultural events, projects or educational initiatives, which take place, for example, in close contact with the parents, the whole family is active in their German home Berlin, but above all in West Africa, in Guinea, more precisely in the birthplace Kankan of her mother. A kindergarten was opened there in October 2014. Now a school is planned, the costs for the teaching staff will probably be covered by the Africa Festival Foundation. You can get an idea of what this special association is all about by visiting their information stand just around the corner in the Bamboo Hall. So our first “Africa Festival Award 2019” goes to: Tiranke and her brother Souleman Diallo on behalf of their association “Mama Africa” and thus all the family members who actively help there and all the other active members of the association. I would now like to invite Ms Tiranke Diallo to the stage!

May 2019

The Ndlovu Youth Choir from South Africa wins also the Africa Festival Award 2019 – Foto: © Bugs Steffen

Ndlovu Youth Choir (South Africa)


Laureate Sona Jobarteh with Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeier, band Daara J Family and host Sarah Bergh – Photo: © Mario Gerth

Laudation of the winner Sona Jobarteh

Dear Federal President,

thank you very much for staying loyal to us and inaugurating the Africa Festival for the second time – this time as head of state and with your wife (Ms. Büdenbender). We would like to thank you for your words of appreciation and approval regarding the 30th anniversary of the festival.

One tradition during the inauguration of the festival is the Africa Festival Awards.

This year, we give the Africa Festival Award to a talented musician and singer who will also perform at this year’s festival. It is a particular joy that you Mr. Federal President already know the laureate. The laureate herself doesn’t know about the award yet, because, as always, it is top secret.

The laureate receives the Africa Festival Award 2018 because of her great musical talent and amazing voice but furthermore also because of her commitment to the children of her home country. She recognized that music and education are the weapons against inexperience, intolerance and poverty. Therefor she used her own money to found a school. Besides the traditional music of their country the children also learn reading, writing, mathematics and are informed about important topics like nutrition and health. We are delighted to give the Africa Festival Award 2018 to Sona Jobarteh from the Gambia and her employees at the school, which she founded. Congratulations dear Sona!

May 2018

Laureate Christian Schuchardt, Dr. Stefan Oschmann and Adolf Bauer

Laudation of the winner Christian Schuchardt

Dear Mr Schuchardt,

I would like to thank you on behalf of the staff for acknowledging our work within the last 30 years.

We are delighted about the “Dancing Shepherd“ award, which also has a partner – the dancing shepherdess. The figurine of the award was created 250 years ago and is part of the court garden of the castle in Veitshöchheim – one of the most beautiful rococo gardens in Europe.

To mark the occasion of this awards ceremony, we also brought a little surprise for you, Lord Mayor, which will hopefully get a special place in your office.

The team of the Africa Festival decided to give the Africa Festival Award 2018 to you, as you are a representative of the city of Würzburg, which has always supported the festival during the last 30 years.

As you can see, we chose two dancing people for our Africa Festival logo. They are part of the national monument of Namibia and in 2007 were declared World Heritage by the Unesco. They are more than 4,000 years old. The San bushmen painted these figures onto the rocks in the North West of Namibia. The two figures represent the African zest for life.

We were only able to bring the African music and zest for life to Würzburg thanks to the support of many people. The city of Würzburg has been an important partner for the last 30 years. Above all, I would like to mention the former head of the cultural office Gabriel Engert and cultural advisor Mr. Voll. These two have been supporting the festival from the start and made sure that, by the second festival, there was already a technical manager, which was provided by the city of Würzburg. For 10 years Mr Jochen Thüringer has been mastering this task with great commitment.

We are also happy that in the last 30 years each year the festival was inaugurated by a representative of the city of Würzburg. This year was the exception, as the festival was inaugurated by Federal President Mr Steinmeier. The city of Würzburg has been supporting us during tough times, too. Thus, e.g. former mayor Jürgen Weber helped us a lot when a concert organiser wanted to have an event at Mainwiesen during the time of the Africa Festival. During the flood catastrophe in 2013 former mayor Mr. Rosenthal came to our rescue by e.g. providing the professional fire brigade.

The city council has been financially supporting the festival from the start – without this support the festival wouldn’t have been possible as we have high expenses for e.g. the infrastructure.

We would also like to thank the institutions of the city of Würzburg, which have helped us, for example the civil engineering department, which provided us with the signs and barriers, the parks office, which gave us plants for the decoration, the city draining for cleaning the sewers, the youth welfare office for providing us with the construction trailer and games, and the CTW for the pre-sale of the tickets and for advising the visitors when it comes to finding a hotel etc. We would like to thank Ms. Dittmann from the protocol for organising the visits of the president of Zanzibar, the Federal President as well as other special guests. Special thanks go to Ms. Birgit Steinmetz who always provided advice in difficult situations.

December 2018


Laudation of the winner Rama Diaw

And now, ladies and gentlemen,
again the very special moment of the festival opening,
we will now present the laureate of the “Africa Festival Award 2017”.


I am quite certain that when this secret is revealed, the sun of Africa will shine with a charming smile on the person’s face.
I know it exactly, because I’ve known her for more than five years, when she was invited here for the first time to the 24th Africa Festival on the Mainwiesen …

She is an artist who likes the music and the colors of Africa, plays with them and combines both in her performances. The modern as well as the traditional Africa. She leaves her national borders to find new sources of inspiration. Which make her kind of art so unique.

If you meet her, she is open to any conversation and hospitality is not only important at her home.

Many of our festival guests who already had the pleasure to meet her will confirm this.
Another characteristic of her is her generosity, her empathy and kindness. To help disadvantaged people in the neighborhood to benefit from their abilities – they give them a new home at their home on the West African coast, teach them and thus open up a new and hopeful life perspective.

Her artistic career began when she was still a child. She had never been satisfied with the clothes which her parents gave to her. With scissors and some sewing thread she quickly created something unique, which she proudly presented to her friends.

Today, her unique pieces can be admired at the big fashion shows in Dakar, Frankfurt or Vienna, or here, on the Mainwiesen at the Africa Festival – ever since 2012.

Ladies and gentlemen, the “Africa Festival Award 2017” goes to our fashion designer from Senegal: Madame Rama Diaw N’Deye!

May 2017

Rama Diaw (winner) and Sarah Bergh – Photo: © Bugs Steffen


Africa Festival Lifetime Achievement Award winner Hugh Masekela – Photo: © Günther Klebinger

Laudation of the winner Hugh Masekela

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends of the Africa Festival,

this year the Africa festival is honoring a man and his work who is one of the most important figures in African music for many decades. He is a true ambassador for the continent’s music because he brought the sound of Africa to all over the world.

But he is not only one of the greatest musicians that ever came out of Africa. He is a great human being too. He was and still is true and serious fighter for peace, justice, freedom and human rights.

He has fought many struggles in his life but he never became a bitter man. I deeply admire that he never lost his charme and his good humor. One example: At his last year’s concert here in Würzburg he introduced himself as “Klaus Adolf born in Wiesbaden”. There, he told the audience, he fell into the river Rhein and was carried through rivers and seas until he stranded on a beach somewhere in Africa.

When he is playing his music on stage he literally seems to be half as old than he actually is. You can experience that in a few hours over there in the big circus tent.

This year it is an extraordinary honor for me to hand over the Africa festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award to a living legend of African music, the musical voice of fight against Apartheid in South Africa, the late great and the one and only HUGH MASEKELA.

May 2016


Klaus Doldinger & Sarah Bergh Festival Award at the 27th Africa Festival Würzburg 2015 – Photo: © Bugs Steffen

Laudation of the winner Sarah Bergh

The person who will receive the first Festival Award this year can virtually be called a fixture of the Africa Festival, as she has been a part of it for a long time.

When you meet her on the festival ground she is always smiling. She embodies kindness and irresistible serenity.

You always enjoy starting a conversation with her. But you should bring along some time. Because she likes to talk, sometimes a lot. But never too much. And she has something to say because she is very educated. At the university at which she studied, she didn’t settle for one subject, but chose to do several.

This person exudes charm and energy to the same extent. Whatever she does, she does it with great commitment. The person I’m talking about is a young woman. She is a committed intermediary and mediator between the European, German and African culture. She is not afraid to express criticism, too. She is always open to new ideas and a helpful partner when it comes to realizing them.

She has been a guest on the stage, or, more precisely, the stages of the Africa Festival and feels at home there. She gives the audience an understanding of the artist in a very enthusiastic way. During the years she has been with us, she has become the face of the Africa Festival, and we hope that she will continue to stay loyal to us for a long time. This year, the first Festival Award goes to our highly esteemed, charming host Sarah Bergh.

Roman Bunka – Photo: © Bugs Steffen

Laudation of the winner Roman Bunka

Now let us talk about the second laureate, someone of whom we as Würzburg residents are particularly proud. Because, although he already left Würzburg a long time ago, he is still one of us. We also still consider basketball superstar Dirk Nowitzki one of us, although he has been living in America for many years. But his career in sports just wouldn’t have been possible without Würzburg. And when it comes to our laureate it is the same.

He wasn’t born here but went to school in Würzburg. And he already rocked the stages of the city with his instrument when he was still young. At the beginning, he preferred blue notes, and started a matching campaign with some fellow musicians. But soon this wasn’t enough for him and Würzburg had become too small. From blue notes he moved on to odd bars and several musical experiments in different bands. He travelled to other countries and continents and turned to a new instrument, which, in Germany, was only known to insiders. Africa, to be more precise Northern Africa, where this instrument is very popular, became his second home. He performed with many famous musicians and still does to this day. We are glad that he returned to his old home once again, and that this year he will demonstrate his ingenuity and virtuosity twice – at the oud and the guitar. For his great accomplishments regarding the musical dialogue between Europe and Africa we honour „our“ Roman Bunka with the Africa festival Award.

Klaus Doldinger – Photo: © Bugs Steffen

Laudation of the winner Klaus Doldinger

Actually I could do without a laudatory speech for our third laureate. I could simply name two or three of his most famous compositions and everyone would know who I’m talking about. Especially, if you occasionally spend your Sunday in front of the TV.

Superficially, many people may not perceive him as a musician who has a strong connection to the music of the African continent. But the musical style where he has been at home for decades would not be possible without the music of Africa. His numerous journeys for his concerts have also led him to Africa. And as he has always been receptive towards new things and curious towards extraordinary musical encounters, he has also performed with African and Brazilian musicians and still does.

Decades ago, he founded a band with which he travelled to the most diverse musical worlds without needing a passport. And in those first days, a man who has made one of the most amazing careers in German rock music played the drums in this band.

I want to make it short and not torture you any longer. At this venue we would like to honour a man for his lifework, particularly for his virtually visionary role as a mediator between Jazz and African music, especially Brazilian and Moroccan music. Congratulations Klaus Doldinger.

May 2015


Africa Festival Award winner 2014 Gasandji – Photo: © Bugs Steffen


Life Time Achievement Award 2013 Manu Dibango
Fatoumata Diawara and Bassekou Kouyate


The author and musician Ibrahima N’Diaye from Senegal

Laudation of the winner Ibrahima Ndiaye

If you take a closer look at the person, who will receive one of the two Africa Festival Awards this year, one question will come up quite quickly: Is there anything he cannot do?

He is a true all-rounder, who is at home in so many cultural areas, so you do not even know where to begin with when talking about him.

Many of you know him and have seen his show at this festival. Maybe you have even come across him today. He is an actor, drummer, entertainer and presenter, he is a singer and musician, he is charming and quick-witted, he knows how to captivate young and old when he starts to tell his stories in his charismatic manners. When he smiles all you can do is smile back. He is a truly positive person who makes other people happy and I have never seen him in a bad mood.

The man I am talking about is originally from Senegal, where he was born in 1963. But you will not be able to tell that when you speak with him nowadays. Our awardee has been living in Germany for many years. Here at the Africa Festival he has become an institution. In all these years he has brought the African continent closer to thousands of children with his ‘sene-gallant’ style and his adorable stories, which is exactly the message the festival carries.

You might have guessed by now who I am talking about. The awardee is standing right next to me. It is our highly appreciated host of the opening ceremony, Ibrahima Ndiaye, or just Ibo.

The voice of Cap Verde – Sara Tavares

Laudation for the winner sara Tavares

This year there is a second award which we will award to a young lady.

In 2000 two staff members of the festival travelled to Rotterdam to listen to a young singer who performed at the local world music festival. Rumours had it that she is a major insider’s tip who would fit right into our Africa Festival. Those two colleagues returned from this trip absolutely enthusiastic and we asked this young vocalist to perform at the festival in 2001.

Her charming manners and her beautiful songs, which reflect the spirit of her native country, enchanted the audience here in Würzburg. Her breath taking songs, her fascinating way of performing, combined with her charisma and natural style make her concerts an emotional event which you cannot forget so quickly. “It is music to feel, not to explain.” She says herself. And nothing more can be said about her music.

All the things I just mentioned are part of the reasons why she receives the award this year. Another reason is that her home country, which her songs are about, is the focus of this years’ festival.

Nowadays she is known as the young voice of her home country who carried the traditions of her country over to modern times. After an illness caused break she is fortunately back on stage and delights the audience with her songs which you will be able to convince yourself about tonight at her concert.

We are more than happy to have her here today and will give the Festival Award 2012 to Sara Tavares from the Cape Verde.


The photographer Angèle Etoundi Essamba from Kamerun

Laudation of the winner Angèle Etoundi Essamba

The Artist was born in Cameroon and moved to Paris with the age of ten. After finishing school she moved to the Netherlands and was trained at the Nederlandse Fotovakschool (Dutch professional photography school). The artist had her first exhibition in 1985 at Maison Descartes in Amsterdam. She presented her pictures, with the theme “Passions” for the first time during the 4th Africa Festival nearly 20 years ago. Another exhibition called “Contrasts” followed in 1996. By now she is an internationally recognized photographer who has been exhibiting her work in Paris, New York, Amsterdam, Rome, Yaoundé and many other places. She was the first female African photographer whose art work has been published. Her work has appeared in a number of publications: Passion 1989, Contrasts 1995, Symboles 1999, Noirs 2001, La Métamorphose du sublime 2003, Dialogue 2006, Voiles & Dévoilements 2008. She has been living and working in Amsterdam for years.

With her own words I would like to finish this laudation: “Photography is for me a need, the need to express and to communicate. As long as the need will exist I will create.”

The Africa Festival Award 2011 goes to: Angèle Etoundi Essamba

The Queen of Calypso – CALYPSO ROSE aus Trinidad

Laudatio an die Preisträgerin Calypso Rose

The Africa Festival Lifetime Achievement Award 2011 was presented to the Queen of Calypso, Calypso Rose (Trinidad / Tobago) by the Minister of Culture of Trinidad & Tobago, his Excellency Mr. Winston Peters.


Acrobatics and musical group ADESA from Ghana

Laudation of the winners

The first laureates and the Africa Festival have something in common. Both have the same age. They were already with us at the first Africa Festival. Back then they were running a workshop about African dance and music. For many years they have been regular guests of our festival. They have been with us for eleven years without interruptions and have delighted and astonished thousands of visitors with their performances. Music, acrobatic and clownish humour is their profession. Their name means mankind and expresses the liberal-minded attitude of the musicians, dancers and acrobats.
They bring the spirit of the African culture and the zest for life to us and thus embody exactly what we want to convey with our festival. What makes them particularly stand out is the fact that they especially want to give children and young people a better understanding of these goals. They work in their homeland Ghana but are also welcome guests in European countries. We are very delighted that they have been enhancing our festival for many years and thus today we want to thank them with the Africa Festival Award 2010. Our first laureate is the group Adesa.

VUSI MAHLASELA and culture secretary LULU XINGWANA from South Africa

This year South Africa is the country of honour of the Africa Festival. Therefor the second award goes to the host country of the World Cup 2010. However, our laureate has nothing to do with soccer. He grew up in the South African township Vlakfontein (today: Mamelodi), where he is still living today. There he quickly came in contact with African music and poetry: He says about himself: “I learned to sing before I could even talk”. When he was 17 he had already performed on stage and started texting and composing his first songs. He has been a committed opponent of apartheid since his youth and in 1994 was invited to perform at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela whose policies of reconciliation he has always supported.

He addresses the social problems of his country in soft tones and is committed to reconcilement. Nadine Gordimer called him a national treasure. Nelson Mandela himself won him over for his four-double-six-six-four-anti-AIDS campaign for which he has been advertising and collecting donations at his concerts and on his website. With our second award we don’t only want to honour one of the most important artists of South Africa, but above all a personality which can be called the voice and conscience of South Africa. The Festival Award 2010 goes to Vusi Mahlasela.

Youssou N’Dour from Senegal

As a singer and musician he has justly gained world fame and his voice can be heard all around the globe. Thus he has generated awareness about Africa again. But today we would like to honour the ambassador for Africa, rather than the singer Youssou N’Dour. In the past Youssou N’Dour has campaigned strongly for Africa’s matters and his voice is always resonating loudly when the wellbeing of his continent and human rights is concerned.

In 1985 he had already performed at the Free Nelson Mandela concert, had sung at Live Aid and at the Human Rights Now! tour of Amnesty International. He has been committed to the struggles of youths in his home country and the fight against malaria. In Senegal he started one of the first internet projects for young people and at his studio he offers jobs to many people. But principally: despite his international success, Senegal remains his home. There he is also publishing the magazine L’Observateur with his media group. The magazine likes to take a closer look at the powerful people and criticize them using strong words. Thus he didn’t only make friends with his work. But Youssou N’Dour is a fighter who doesn’t give up quickly. In return for his commitment, but also to give him a little encouragement to continue on his path we want to honour him with this year’s Africa Festival Award.


The first Africa Festival Lifetime Achievement Award 2010 was given to the famous South African trombone player Jonas Gwangwa for his lifework. The laudatory speech was given by the Minister for Arts and Culture Lulu Xingwana (South Africa).



Laudation of the winners

Dear guests,
Now the moment where we would like to give away our Africa Festival Award 2009 has come. This year the management of the festival decided to honour three people. The first Africa Festival Award 2009 will be given to an artist of great international renown. He won’t be honoured for his extraordinary voice or his long musical career, but for his commitment to albinos. With his organisation “Salif Keita global foundation” he tries to make it easier for albinos to access education and get free medical care. We all know that in various countries albinos are subject to persecution, social exclusion and discrimination. The Africa Festival Award 2009 goes to Salif Keita for defending the rights of albinos, which deserves recognition.

As Salif Keita isn’t in Würzburg yet, we ask Mister Ba, minister for handicrafts and tourism of the Republic of Mali, to accept this award and give it to Salif Keita during his concert on Monday.


The other two Africa Festival Awards 2009 go to two gentlemen who have become a staple at the festival. Each year they bring sun, hospitality and a smile to the Africa Festival.

Over the years, for many visitors, their tent has become a place for relaxing and meeting different people. Their traditional habits, their way of life and their art make many Europeans start dreaming. Without them realising, they are doing a great job at advertising their beautiful home country. These two gentlemen are ambassadors for a positive and upright Africa. The laureates of 2009 are Mister Alhous and Mister El Kassim, whom I cordially invite to accept the Africa Festival Award on stage.


The German photographer JÜRGEN SCHADEBERG

Laudatin of the winners

Dear Secretary of State, Excellencies and dear guests,

it has become a great tradition to give away the festival award during the opening ceremony of the Africa Festival. In 2001 the Senegalese group Daara J received the first Festival Award ever. By now several musicians like Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango, Lokua Kanza and Angelique Kidjo, just to name a few, have been honoured with our award. Moreover, institutions like the South African Anti – Aids- Initiative “Steps for the Future” and the Tuareg organisation Efes, who have hosted the extraordinary Festival au Desert in the desert of Mali, have received this award.

I am pleased to introduce you to our two newest honourees to mark the 20 years anniversary of the Africa Festival. The first one to be named has been working with us for the first time this year. His pictures made and shaped African history. Over 50 years ago a young photographer travelled to South Africa, which was at this point completely unknown to him. There he was able to keep records of the development of apartheid in the 50ies with his striking pictures and there fore, as it was recently precisely said, he gave apartheid faces and names.

Furthermore, he has captured some very expressive photos showing the music and musicians of South Africa, which is currently part of our Kulturspeicher exhibition. Through the quality of his pictures he has become an important mediator between the black and the white population of South Africa.

Congratulations to Jürgen Schadeberg!

The mayor of the city of Würzburg GEORG ROSENTHAL

The second Festival Award is a sign of thankfulness as well. The fact, that the Africa Festival is taking place in Würzburg is, as we all know it, a fortunate coincidence. We just happen to be at home here.

Maybe the one or the other scrutinized us a bit sceptical at the early beginnings of the festival.

When we started, 20 years ago, to provide the music and culture of Africa a base in Würzburg it appeared rather exotic. Luckily, though, the persons in charge at the municipality were willing to support our intentions. At the beginning these were the, at the time, cultural affairs officer Dr. Voll and director of the office for cultural affairs Gabriel Engert. Also, all the following officers and lord mayors, not to mention the city council never left us out in the rain. That the city of Würzburg even supported us when they were in a tight financial spot, is something we really have to give them credit for. We really appreciate your support. Please remain loyal with us for the future!

As a token of our gratitude for our 20 years on – going cooperation, I would like to present the Festival Award 2008 to the Lord Mayor of Würzburg Georg Rosenthal.

2001 – 2007

At the Africa Festival in 2007 the Festival Award was given to German-Nigerian singer and musician Ade Bantu. With the award we honoured his great commitment to fight against daily racism in Germany. With his project „brothers Keepers“ Bantu and his musical colleagues demand to put an end to discrimination. The award also honoured the movie “Yes I am “ in which Ade Bantu plays one of the lead roles. In the movie three afro-German musicians talk about their daily lives and experiences in Germany. Recently, Ade Bantu made headlines with a resolution which demands and end to sexism and racism in German hip-hop.

Angelique Kidjo
Manu Dibango
Lokua Kanza
Harald Ganns

In 2006 a singer who has already enthused thousands of visitors at the Africa Festival received the first Africa Festival Award. She embodies what the aim of the festival has been from the beginning and still is: giving young singers a base for a great subsequent career. In 1992 Angelique Kidjo performed for the first time in Würzburg at the 4th edition of the Africa Festival when she was still a young unknown singer. Today she is known around the globe. She is a true ambassador of Africa and pleases people worldwide with her unrivalled voice and outstanding stage presence.

A man who always enchants his listeners with his wonderful voice has been connected to the Africa Festival for many years, too. He is always a welcome guest. He also first performed at the Mainwiesen when he was still an inside tip. He was able to conquer the hearts of his listeners with his singing for the first time in 1994 at the 6th edition of the festival. His songs and voice cannot be imitated and he is always looking for new ways to bring his songs closer to the audience. Therefore Lokua Kanza from the republic of Kongo received the Festival Award in 2006.

His deep voice and typicial saxophone will be forever entrenched in your ears. Anyone who has ever listened to Manu Dibango won’t forget him. He is one of the pioneers of afro jazz. In 1994 he released Wakafrika, which is one of the most important albums of African music of the last years. His trademark is “Soul Makossa”. Manu Dibango is one of the pioneers who has brought the music of Africa to the whole world. He received the award for his musical lifework.

The Africa Festival is living off of music, however, it requires many people backstage so that the music can be played at all. When there were ambassadors from 33 African countries in 2006, when musicians performed, who didn’t have a visa until shortly before the festival, then one man was responsible who has been tightly connected to the festival for many years. He has been an ambassador for several African countries, a representative for Africa of the Federal Government and, since he has retired, his full-time job is being our chief of protocol. More than once Harald Ganns has been a knight in shining armour and for his commitment we thanked him with an Africa Festival Award.

In 2005 there were again 3 awards.

The first award was given to the exceptional musician Boubacar Traore. His voice was already heard on the radio in Mali in the 1960s at the times of the independency. Until today he has stayed loyal to his music and receives the Africa Festival Award for his musical lifework.

The second award went to Thabiso Motsusi und Moalosi Thabane from South Africa. The two young men have been committed to raising AIDS awareness in their country despite them being afflicted by the disease. With the anti-AIDS movies of “Steps for the future” they mainly travelled to rural areas where they motivated the population to take steps to prevent AIDS.

The third award was given to the members of the non-profit organisation Afro Project. For 17 years the members have been committed to working for the Africa Festival, the biggest festival for African music and culture in Europe in their spare time.

In 2004 the Africa Festival Award was given to the anti-Aids initiative “Steps for the Future” from Cape Town for their great commitment to prevent Aids in South Africa. They are trying to educate the population of Southern Africa, mainly in rural areas, about AIDS by using movies.
Another award was given to Miriam Makeba from South Africa. She didn’t only receive the award for her exceptional voice and great musical career, but also for her commitment against apartheid in South Africa.

The third award was given to 7 employees of the Mali Nord Projekt by the Gesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit GTZ for their commitment to fight against hunger and for peace. The North of Mali was hit by two catastrophic draughts. As the promised relief supplies didn’t arrive, the Tuaregs started to revolt which lead to years of belligerent disputes and many people dying. The Mali Projekt has played an important part in restoring peace.

In 2003 photographer Jean Marc Durou received the Africa Festival Award for his brilliant pictures of the Sahara and der Tuaregs. Another award was given to the employees of the Tuareg organisation Efes from Mali for organising the “Festival in the desert”. The festival takes place in the middle of the desert under demanding organisational and logistic conditions.

In 2002 the Africa Festival Award was given to singer Seydu from Sierra Leone for his album “Diamond Tears”. He dedicated the album to the children of his home who were victims of the diamond war between 1992 and 1995. The second award went to the Senegalese fashion designer Oumou Sy for her extraordinary creations and her commitment to fashion in Africa.

In 2001 the first award was given to Senegalese music group Daara-J. Rapper Lord Alaji Man, Faada Freddy and N’Dongo D impress their audience with their musical talent and dynamic performances.