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Africa Oye

Africa Oyé appeals for support to fund sign language interpreters at this year’s festival

1 month ago

Africa Oyé appeals for support to fund sign language interpreters at this year’s festival
Africa Oyé. Credit: Mark McNulty

Organisers of one of the city’s favourite festivals are appealing for support to help fund sign language interpreters at this year’s event.

Africa Oyé has bid for cash from supermarket chain Tesco’s Stronger Starts fund – but it needs people to pop in the blue tokens and vote for it at their local store.

Stronger Starts offers grants of up to £1,500 to local community projects with three in each area shortlisted to receive awards at any one time – and Africa Oyé’s Sign Language Team is one of the groups nominated around Sefton Park where the festival takes place.

Bobbie Blackwell who heads up the British Sign Language team at Africa Oyé, which this year will take place over the weekend of June 22-23, says: “We believe everyone should be able to access our free, family festival equally.

Bobbie Blackwell who heads up the Briti sh Sign Language team at Africa Oyé. Credit: Mark McNulty
Bobbie Blackwell who heads up the Briti sh Sign Language team at Africa Oyé. Credit: Mark McNulty

“Deaf sign language users from all over the country and beyond come to celebrate with us.”

With interpreters needed on stage as well as around the site for the festival, she adds: “The artists’ performances frequently carry messages holding such deep importance.

“The music brings to the fore Africa and the diaspora’s shared history, politics, struggles, faith, unity, and love. Accessing this through the signing, people sometimes see-hear their own history, or discover their shared identity, for the very first time, and our team has been privileged to be part of moments like these at every festival.”

People around Sefton Park can vote for Africa Oyé at their local Tesco
People around Sefton Park can vote for Africa Oyé at their local Tesco

She continues: “This funding will contribute towards ensuring everyone can come and enjoy the festival together. We have more deaf people coming to join us year on year; it’s incredibly humbling.”

Paul Duhaney, artistic director, adds:“Inclusion is key for Oyé. The festival attracts people from all walks of life, and if there is a community that is ever under-represented, we strive to rectify that.”

As well as signed stage performances, the festival also has an accessible viewing platform and access tent to make sure everyone, they say, can enjoy and experience the event together.

People have until the end of March to register their support for Africa Oyé, using a blue token given at the checkout every time they shop in Tesco.

Entrance is free to Africa Oyé. 

To find out more about what’s happening this year at Africa Oyé, click here.

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