Why hello there. You’ve probably heard a lot about this Aarhus Festival. I hope some of you took our advice or went of your own will, because this event is probably the only time that Aarhus will be that FULL of people. That’s because one of the amazing things about Aarhus Festival week is that there is something for everyone! Let me tell you a little about my own experiences of the festival…
I sat at the Pustervigtorv tent to have a cold beer and to watch the Danes loosen up and get crazy after a little alcohol. (I wish I had gotten a picture of that 60 year old man dancing with a cowboy hat on. A cowboy hat!)
I watched a live performance art piece, where people lined up to throw plates of spaghetti, wine, mustard, WHOLE RAW EGGS, etc., at a giant white canvas. (To the very tall people who pushed me out of the way, so they could get closer, I feel bad that you got splashed with food…Hah!)
I listened to some quality musicians and because I don’t like the usual Danish festival music *cough, cough* I sat in the Turkish tent, had some tea and smoked shisha from a water pipe. (And noooo, there are no illegal substances in shisha, just good ol’ tobacco and delicious fruit or mint flavors!)
Last, but certainly not least, I was lucky enough to hear a quick talk (organized by Vild Med Ord – or the Aarhus Literature Festival) from three exiled authors from three different African republics (Kenya, Zimbabwe and Gambia), who were forced to flee their homes or face political persecution because they did not fear to speak out against corruption in their respective governments. I won’t go into too much discussion, but if you are interested, the links to a couple of their webpages will be provided below. (Warning: things are about to get all real and serious here)
Philo Ikonya – Now living in Norway, she was forced to flee Kenya after she experienced physical violence and faced imprisonment because she had the courage to condemn prominent government figures by name in her poetry. She hasn’t let fear kill her passion for life or stop her from writing and so she continues to fight for human rights, particularly those of women. Read her blog here on The WIP to learn more about her experiences and her insightful perspectives on human rights, women’s rights, etc., both in Kenya and the world.
Tendai Tagarira – Living right here with us in Aarhus, Tagarira also had to flee his home in Zimbabwe for writing criticisms about the current dictator Robert Mugabe. Although Tagarira has encountered some tense situations even in Denmark, the country that was meant to give him safe haven, he continues to be an animated speaker whose energy and enthusiasm can be heard on Aarhus radio channel 98.7 Mhz on Mondays from 13:00 – 14:00. Visit his homepage here for more information on the man who has vowed to not cut his hair until Mugabe is dead or removed from power.
Seedy Bojang – Currently, Bojang lives in Copenhagen after his livelihood was endangered so that he had to leave Gambia. He worked as a journalist for The Independent, a newspaper that wrote critically against the government, so it is no surprise to those who know the situation in Gambia that this newspaper office was shut down when a team of masked men stormed in; Bojang and his colleagues could only watch as the armed men smashed and set fire to the printer. The current regime headed by Yahya Jammeh severely restricts the freedom of the press and has lead to the imprisonment, and disappearance, of journalists who continue to express opinions that criticize or oppose the government. There is much more to Bojang’s story and much more to be said on all three of these authors’ experiences and works, although unfortunately Seedy Bojang does not have a homepage that I know of.
Alright, so that was some heavy stuff to read, especially since you were expecting all fun and giggles. For those of you who made it this far, congratulations! Your reward is a small slideshow!! Aren’t you so lucky? Seriously though, the moral of the story is that you should never hesitate to get out there and see what small joys and unique experiences Aarhus has to offer. Even if it might be something completely different from your own culture, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a go. You never know if you’ll find something around the corner that will take you by surprise (in a good way…please no flashers).
Well, that’s it for now. Sadly, Aarhus Festival was the last “Hurrah!” and now it’s back to work. If you need me, you can find me in the basement of the library under a mountain of books, cups of coffee around me like fallen soldiers in the battlefield, bits of dust and cobwebs in my hair, and covered in tears of self pity.
Check out the slideshow and see some more pics from Aarhus Festival (Photos taken by Jacob Jensen and René Jensen):