FUNDA Fest 2017: From Westerly to Woonsocket, Providence to Newport…

From Saturday January 14 until Saturday January 21, 2017, Rhode Island Black Stories (RIBS) presents the 19th annual FUNDA Fest. FUNDA means to teach and learn in Zulu and KiSwahili, and for an entire week, adults and children will be able to experience some of the best cultural arts programming across Rhode Island at venues that include schools, community and cultural arts centers, a museum, and local theaters.
For almost two decades, internationally renowned storytellers have taught and entertained with stories from the African Diaspora. This year, RIBS welcomes master storyteller from Chicago, making his FUNDA Fest debut, Oba William King.
Known as The Poetic Storyteller, Oba’s most significant influence in the art of storytelling came as a result of his sojourn to Benin, West Africa (in the villages of Apolydaho, Sedgae’ and Dakota), resulting in solo performances to share and celebrate his original anthem “I Love My People.” Since his debut with the National Association of Black Storytellers at the San Diego conference in 2006, Oba has ignited audiences with his ability to capture their attention and gently release them into the playful realm of rhythm and rhyme, making him easily recognized as one of the most exciting storytellers of his peer group. He masterfully combines professional theatrical training with a distinct poetic style. Oba is an entertaining educator sharing the traditional art form, as if it were a sacred gift.
Along with Oba, FUNDA is bringing one of my favorite international storytellers,  Teju Ologboni, from Milwaukee, who is a master storyteller and folklorist of international renown. Teju draws his listeners into stories with gestures and movements, and sometimes with traditional African instruments. The festival also is welcoming multi-award-winning, internationally acclaimed performer of Cuban heritage sharing original and world stories spiced with exquisite mime, Leeny Del Seamonds.
Along with local favorites Valerie Tutson, Raffini and Len Cabral, FUNDA also brings us amazing events like the “Liar’s Contest,’” where anyone can get in on the storytelling fun and compete for a cash prize for having the best story. Family Fun Day is a free event happening at the Southside Cultural Center, a day of concerts and workshops where intergenerational storytellers entertain and teach others of all ages how to tell their own stories. There will be outdoor activities, crafts and vendors on site to make the Family Fun Day an event you won’t want to miss!
Over the 19 years of Rhode Island Black Storytellers’ existence, FUNDA Fest has sponsored dozens of national storytellers and enriched the lives of thousands of Rhode Islanders. FUNDA Fest has always been one of my favorite festivals of the state since I was introduced to it more than 10 years ago. Fun for all ages, this years FUNDA Fest will prove to be a blast.
For information and tickets: ribsfest.org or Rhode Island Black Storytellers on Facebook.

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