Etienne Cakpo, director of Seattle-based Gansango Dance & Music company, performs during the annual Bideww Arts Exhibition and Talent Show hosted by Washington West African Center in December at Neema Community Church in Everett. (Ousman Jarju / Washington West Africa Center)

Etienne Cakpo, director of Seattle-based Gansango Dance & Music company, performs during the annual Bideww Arts Exhibition and Talent Show hosted by Washington West African Center in December at Neema Community Church in Everett. (Ousman Jarju / Washington West Africa Center)

Experience African music, culture and cuisine in Everett

The inaugural Sounds of Africa festival will be held Aug. 4-5 at Everett Community College. Admission is free.

EVERETT — A nonstop flight from Seattle to Africa will take close to 20 hours and cost thousands. But life on the continent can be experienced for free this weekend in Everett.

The first-ever Sounds of Africa festival offers workshops on traditional African musical instruments and dance. There will also be live music, a fashion show and vendors selling African food.

Activities will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 4-5 at Everett Community College, 2000 Tower St. in Everett. Friday workshops will be held at the Henry M. Jackson Conference Center. Saturday performances and vendors can be found at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center.

“In a nutshell, we are bringing Africa to Snohomish County,” said Pa Ousman Joof, executive director of the Washington West African Center. The Lynnwood-based nonprofit organizes events and programs in support of the West African community, but Joof said this festival will be the center’s first event aimed at non-Africans.

Joof has wanted to put on an event like this for years. He originally planned it for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to that. It’s finally coming to fruition this weekend with the goal of fostering diversity, promoting coexistence and facilitating cultural exchange.

“As a people, we can’t wait to just share with everyone,” Joof said, “for us to just celebrate humanity, celebrate Africa, celebrate everybody.”

Friday workshops are first come, first served, and limited to 75 people. Joof encourages people to sign up beforehand to reserve their spot at

Joof is planning for 2,500 people to attend over the weekend.

As for event highlights: “Since this is the first one, I believe everything is going to be a highlight,” said Ousman Jarju, the center’s media director. “I’m looking forward to seeing the interactions that are going to happen amongst just ordinary people coming together and meeting for the first time.”

In terms of special guests, the Kouyate Twins will be there to host a dance workshop at 5 p.m. Friday, then perform at 7 p.m. Saturday. Brothers Ousseynou and Lassana “Assane” Kouyate hail from Senegal and come from a long line of griots, a combination of historian, storyteller, poet and musician. The duo have performed professionally since age 13 and were lead dancers and choreographers with Le Ballet National du Senegal and the Sinomew Ballet of Senegal, according to Alliance for California Traditional Arts.

The Seattle-based Gansango Music & Dance company hosts a drum and dance workshop at 5 p.m. Friday before performing live at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Gambian singer Pa Bobo Jobareth hosts a workshop at 11 a.m. Friday on how to play the kora, a type of stringed West African instrument that’s a cross between a lute and harp. He’ll also perform at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.

Pa Omar Jack and The Jeff Jell Band perform at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Jack is a Lake Stevens vocalist originally from The Gambia who has been in the music business for nearly two decades. He has released several albums, and his music videos can be seen on YouTube.

Jack describes his sound as traditional African music with a fusion of sweet funk and Afrobeat. At the festival, he plans to sing in his native language, Wolof, along with English, so audiences can sing along.

“I will play nice Afrofusion music,” Jack said. “Everybody will love it.”

A fashion show showcasing traditional African clothing is set for 12:15 p.m. Saturday. And African food will be offered from vendors that include Dijah’s Kitchen and Bantaba African Restaurant, both from Lynnwood.

If you can’t make it this weekend, don’t fret — Joof plans to make the festival an annual affair. However, this first will be special, he said.

“We encourage people to come,” Joof said. “Whoever attends this, you will be part of the history of the Sounds of Africa festival, because it’s here to stay.”

For more information, call 253-235-2132 or email

Eric Schucht: 425-339-3477;; Twitter: @EricSchucht.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Whidbey duo uses fencing to teach self-discipline, sportsmanship to youth

Bob Tearse and Joseph Kleinman are sharing their sword-fighting expertise with young people on south Whidbey Island.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone plays cop in Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’

The true-crime drama started streaming Wednesday. It’s Gladstone’s first part since her star turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

A giant Bigfoot creation made by Terry Carrigan, 60, at his home-based Skywater Studios on Sunday, April 14, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
The 1,500-pound Sasquatch: Bigfoot comes to life in woods near Monroe

A possibly larger-than-life sculpture, created by Terry Carrigan of Skywater Studios, will be featured at this weekend’s “Oddmall” expo.

Craig Chambers takes orders while working behind the bar at Obsidian Beer Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Obsidian Beer Hall takes over former Toggle’s space in downtown Everett

Beyond beer, the Black-owned taphouse boasts a chill vibe with plush sofas, art on the walls and hip-hop on the speakers.

Glimpse the ancient past in northeast England

Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles across the isle. It’s still one of England’s most thought-provoking sights.

I accidentally paid twice for my hotel. Can I get a refund?

Why did Valeska Wehr pay twice for her stay at a Marriott property in Boston? And why won’t help her?

How do you want your kids to remember you when they grow up?

Childhood flies by, especially for parents. So how should we approach this limited time while our kids are still kids?

The Ford Maverick has seating for five passengers. Its cargo bed is 4.5 feet long. (Photo provided by Ford)
2024 Ford Maverick compact pickup undergoes a switch

The previous standard engine is now optional. The previous optional engine is now standard.

Dalton Dover performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Friday, June 9, 2023, at the Spotify House in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The Red Hot Chili Pipers come to Edmonds, and country artist Dalton Dover performs Friday as part of the Everett Stampede.

wisteria flower in Japan
Give your garden a whole new dimension with climbing plants

From clematis and jasmine to wisteria and honeysuckle, let any of these vine varieties creep into your heart – and garden.

Great Plant Pick: Dark Beauty Epimedium

What: New foliage on epimedium grandiflorum Dark Beauty, also known as Fairy… Continue reading

While not an Alberto, Diego or Bruno, this table is in a ‘Giacometti style’

Works by the Giacometti brothers are both valuable and influential. Other artists’ work is often said to be in their style.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.