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Bongo Love and Co.

Bongo Love
Bongo Love

Confession time: All I know about Africa is what I’ve learned from movies or books. And while I can watch Blood Diamond a million times or reread Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight every year, it won’t teach me half as much as Celebrate Africa!, an all-day takeover “in celebration of the arts, music and cultures of the African continent” this weekend at Cozmic. 

Escape what’s sure to be a dreary November afternoon outdoors for the sun and warmth of the world’s second largest continent, and before you shimmy to the music, get warmed up with some culture first. Get there right at noon to peruse the fair trade market, filled with handmade items from locally based nonprofits African Birth Collective, Ancient Ways, Nima’s Wish Foundation, Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife, Makindu Children’s Programs and the West African Cultural Arts Center. 

For those looking to quench their thirst for knowledge, don’t miss the speaker series featuring UO professors beginning at 1:30 pm: Dennis Galvan has conducted research in West Africa since 1986, exploring sustainable models of social change.  Janis Weeks is deeply involved with research and education of infectious diseases in Africa. 

Ready to rock? There is a free Intro to Marimba class with singer, drummer and marimba player John Mambira, at 4 pm. After the class, prepare to be moved by the sounds of Mutswi Wambuya Marimba, Mudzidzi Mbira with Chaka Mhembere, the Solutions and Denbaya Drum and Dance with Ibrahim Sollya. Make sure to stay for the internationally beloved, Zimbabwe-based Bongo Love, who is on another tour of the U.S. and Canada (they used to perform with Dispatch in the early aughts). Their progressive, self-declared “Afrocoustic” style of music is an infectious fusion of guitar with the mbira (a wooden thumb piano) from Zimbabwe, the marimba from Mozambique, the djembe and, of course, the bongo from West Africa.

Celebrate Africa! runs noon to 11 pm Saturday, Nov. 17, at Cozmic Pizza; $5-$15, kids under 10 get in free. This is a free event until 5 pm.