Party for the planet
WORDS AND IMAGES: MARIE BARBIERI
A multicoloured, multicultural and free-spirited oasis… Welcome to WOMADelaide: one of our planet’s most relevant festivals.
The world, in all its variety and delight, as well as its crises, takes centre-stage at WOMADelaide. Music, dance, drama, progressive conversations and cooking demonstrations all marinated in Adelaide’s Botanic Park over the March long weekend in 2016.
The motif of nature infused the festival: Australian Dance Theatre’s physical performance was entitled: The Beginning of Nature; a solar panel and bicycle recharged revellers’ mobiles; green boxes demonstrated permaculture in action; market stalls sold handcrafted cheeseboards recycled from floorboards; and organic food stalls teased tongues.
On every stage, WOMADelaide championed mother earth and her diversity. Days began with a yoga session beneath the Moreton Bays, gums and pines, chorused by corellas and flying foxes. Adelaide’s Botanic Park then bloomed with musical acts from 26 countries—from New Zealand’s virtuoso singer, Marlon Williams & the Yarra Benders, to Japanese 1970s-style funk band, Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro.
Planet Talks discussion panels explored climate change threats with nuanced debates. Veteran environmentalist, David Suzuki, set the tone in his keynote speech: “We steal from the endless future to feed the fleeting present.” He placed us “at a unique moment in the 4-billion-year history of life on earth. For the first time, we have a species that is creating an extinction event, can see it coming, and has the tools to prevent it.”
But the tide is turning, and a groundswell of action is helping to reconnect us to the environment. Nine years ago, environmentalist and author, Indira Naidoo, began planting seeds in pots. She now grows 43 varieties of foods and herbs, producing 70kg of produce per year… all from her Potts Point balcony! “It’s the joy I get from growing food that makes me love nature,” she said. Her mission is to reconnect hyper-urbanised city-dwellers with nature.
Amelia Telford, national director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, reminded us of the human face of climate change: “It’s not just a battle for how we love our land, it’s a battle for how we love each other. Indigenous peoples around the world are facing the impact of this crisis most.”
The World’s Stage
These needs are not lost to African music legend and UNICEF ambassador, Angélique Kidjo, who wowed her audience alongside the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. “I want my music to create a bridge between Africa and the diaspora,” she said. When not accruing three Grammy Awards, Kidjo dedicates much of her time to empowering disadvantaged communities in her native Benin.
Chef, Jock Zonfrillo, of Orana fame, ran a Taste the World presentation. His Adelaide restaurant represents the haute cuisine of native Australian ingredients. He employs indigenous growers and chefs to get bush foods onto urban plates. Zonfrillo also serves magpie goose: a pest to mango trees, but delicious meat to the curious palate.
If WOMADelaide’s conversations sharpened our concern for the world, the festival’s music, dance and comedy united our love for it. It is this combination of arts, food and ideas that roused our senses and nourished our minds, in defence, and in delight, of our shared planet.
Now we’re preparing for the WOMADelaide 2017 event just around the corner – celebrating 25 years this year.
WOMADelaide 2017 will take place 10-13 March.
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Based in Adelaide, the festival city, Marie is a successful freelance writer and photographer who contributes to various travel and health publications. She has a passion for wildlife and conservation, and enjoys hiking and cycling.
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