Artistic groups in music are usually a big draw for festivalgoers. Photo / Masa Festival

By Kudra Maliro

A celebration of African music, theatre, dance, poetry and storytelling has kicked off in Côte d'Ivoire at the 13th edition of the biannual Market for African Performing Arts, known by its French initials as MASA.

  1. The week-long festival in Abidjan runs through April 20 and features 35 artists and artistic groups from 13 countries. Winners in each category are selected by a jury.

What started in March 1993 as a platform for the promotion of African performing arts has blossomed into a festival of continental recognition, with some 150,000 visitors expected at this year's event, according to organisers.

  1. The festival brings together a wide range of artists, professionals and cultural enthusiasts from across West Africa and beyond. This years theme is Youth, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Levers for the development of the African performing arts industries.
Five groups will participate in the circus and puppetry category. Photo / Masa Festival

At least 300 shows are expected at this year's event, Yacouba Sangaré, MASA Festival Communications Manager, told TRT Afrika.

This was drawn from an initial application of 632 entries from 32 countries.

Since its inception, MASA has served as a platform to showcase the artistic talents inherent in West Africa, while encouraging intercultural dialogue, promoting regional integration and fostering the growth of the performing arts sector.

"This year, the festival will be celebrating its 30th anniversary," added Mr Sangaré.

Performances by musical bands showcases some of the most exciting talent in the continent. Photo / Masa Festival

West African bloc Ecowas has confirmed its support for the MASA Festival. Winners in the slam poetry and comedy categories will get a prize of $2,000 and $3,000 respectively.

"Ecowas provides financial support and plays a crucial role in the overall organization of the Abidjan Performing Arts Market (MASA). This demonstrates the Community's commitment to using arts and culture to promote peace and regional integration," it said in a statement sent to TRT Afrika.

Heritage dances and contemporary dances will also be in display at the festival. Photo / Masa Festival

Masa was established to among other things facilitate the movement of artists and their works within Africa and throughout the world.

Over the years it has led to the signing of contracts between promoters and artistic groups and trained technicians to meet high standards for their work.

"We want this MASA Festival to make us feel like Africans, not like people who come from different countries," explained Sangaré.

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TRT Afrika