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INDIAN OCEAN FESTIVAL (article first published : 2004-04-13)

Awesome Africa organisers report back on the inaugural meeting of the Indian Ocean Festival Association.

This historic meeting of The Indian Ocean Festival Association took place in Reunion from March 4 to 7,2004. The IOFA is an association of professional music institutions and festivals.

Founder members include Hanitra Rasaonaivo (Antshow, Madagascar); Dan Chiorboli (Awesome Africa, South Africa); Alain Courbis (Pole Regional, Reunion); Jerome Galabert (Le Sechoir, Reunion); Yusuf Mahmoud (Busara Productions, Zanzibar), and Roland Hohberg (MOYA, Mozambique). Associate member is Christian Mousset (Musique-Metisses, France).

Founder territories include Madagascar, South Africa, Reunion, Zanzibar and Mozambique, and other territories will be invited to join. The criteria is that festivals must be within the greater Indian Ocean area and the SADC diaspora and subscribe to the ethos of the IOFA.

The aims of the association are to help artists of the Indian Ocean get a larger exposure and a wider recognition and to build a synergy to increase cultural cooperation between countries of the Indian Ocean.

Other objectives are to develop the practice and values of each country's traditional music and to provide musicians and technicians alike with a formal training locally. This can be achieved either by an exchange program or by organizing master classes in every location where an event takes place.

The association also wishes to increase respect amongst local populations for their own traditional music and instruments while developing the South-South cultural cooperation. It will focus on presenting the fact that the Indian Ocean is the only place that brings together Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia (Oceania) and all major art forms and it has the most vivid traditional art forms in the world.

It will help preserve the musical tradition of each country by releasing educational DVD's and other products. These tuition tools should be presented in multilingual formats (subtitles) so that the spreading of these cultures is optimized. Today's technologies allow such possibilities by using either subtitles for languages other than the artist's or dubbing with other languages.

It is hoped that an Indian Ocean Music Expo & Trade Fair will be hosted on a revolving basis, starting in 2005 in Reunion, thereafter Durban, South Africa in 2006 and so on. This expo will aim at incorporating as many music institutions from as broad an area within the Indian Ocean as possible, thus featuring as many artists and music forms as possible. An important element will be music education/training in traditional forms.

Although IOFA festivals occur throughout the year, traditional and educational themes will permeate throughout. IOFA's official launch which will take place at Strictly Mundial in Istanbul at the end of April.

More information from Awesome Africa directors Dan Chiorboli on 083 227 7815 and Prof Pitika Ntuli on 082 870 9280 or e-mail: awesomeafrica@cbusnet.com or visit www.awesomeafricafestival.co.za




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