Odunde Festival gives local vendors platform to share culture

The 43rd annual street festival celebrates African culture.

Justin Udo
June 10, 2018 - 2:08 pm
Streching from the Schuylkill River to 23rd and South streets every year, the unique cuisine and vibrant music attracts thousands of people to the Odunde Festival.

Justin Udo | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The largest African-American street festival in the country returned to Center City Sunday, embracing a time to celebrate and learn about African culture.

Stretching from the Schuylkill River to 23rd and South streets every year, the unique cuisine, art, clothing and vibrant music attracts thousands of people to the Odunde Festival.

But that's only part of the culture folks who come out can experience.

"You'll see a lot of colors, a lot of bright colors. The colors just draw you to them," said Jamila, who sells African clothing at Odunde.

Recently, she said there's been an increase in popularity with African clothing, like the African kente cloth-based patterns.

"Especially since the movie 'Black Panther,' there's another set of awareness because of that movie," she noted. "It's a big part, because it's how we represent ourselves as we walk around."

As a result of the popularity, the clothing has become more affordable and accessible.

"A lot of these pieces used to be like $100-something," she added. "We've gotten to where we can sell it for like $30, $40 where people can afford it now."

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The festival also means a lot to Victoria Onwuchekwa, owner of Chic Afrique Herbals. She said Odunde is a time when "the average black person can relax, exhale and be themselves."

Onwuchekwa said cleansing products and soaps are big parts of different African cultures, and at her stand, she brings them to the masses.

"Shea butter, cocoa butter, black soap — I blend them in to make natural products, all unique," she said. "It has its own antioxidants. As a result when you use shea butter, it slows the aging process."

Victoria Onwuchekwa, owner of Chic Afrique Herbals, said she's glad the 43rd annual street festival gives her a platform to share African culture with the world.
Justin Udo | KYW Newsradio

She said her products are a big hit in the U.S. because of their physical benefits. A lot of the products she sells like shea butter also play a vital part in West African life.

"They use it when the baby is born, as the baby grows up, as the baby gets ready for marriage, and when the old lady dies," she added.

Onwuchekwa said she's glad the 43rd annual street festival gives her a platform to share African culture with the world.