“Maailma Kylässä”, Finnish Festival for All Races
 

  Amin George Forji

     
  “Maailma Kylässä”,  the Finnish version of Business Forum, dubed the World Village Festival has come of age. Because one of its primary motive of the 12-years old annual festival is to make the world a better place through the promotion of market possibilities in culturally and socially diverse settings, it has come to be funnily referred to by Finns as “The Christmas for Foreigners”. The main difference between “Maailma Kylässä” and other business forums is that the former is only concerned with cultural products.

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  This year’s Maailma Kylässä took place over the weekend on the 26th and 27th of May, at its traditional venue-the Kaisaniemi park at the very heart of Helsinki. For two days, various global cultural groupings and associations in Finland took positions at the park to display or sell their crafts, music, costume, cuisine and culture in nutshell.

The Finnish national radio, YLE, reported in its Sunday 10am news bulletin that truly speaking, Maailma Kylässä is one of  the only forum in Finland , where Finns meet with all races, religions  and ideologies to exhibit a blueprint of the globalize world we live in, by whole-heartedly embracing multiculturalism and being tolerant.

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  During this year’s festival, more than 250 Groupings, NGOs and companies bought stands at the park to exhibit or sell their cultural products or music. Over 2000 people attended each day of the festival, and as Johanna Eurakoski, one of the festival’s promoters remarked on YLE, “No one comes to Maailma Kylässä and go back without finding some things that interest him”.
 

  About a third of the groups that registered for the festival had separate stands to sell food, most of which were quite tasteful and exotic. Many people normally have fun to cuisines from as many diverse countries as possible. My gym-friend, Tapsa Lukkonen told me on Sunday that he was very proud that this year, he bought from almost every continent. He began with the Vietnamese, which he said had a taste of China.Next, he tried Peru, Jamaica, Turkey, Cameroon, Ghana, Afghanistan and eventually Nepal.
Asked if he was pleased with his selection, he replied with a smile that it could not have been better.
   At the Cameroon food stand, I met the sellers, Sinator  Jay and  Aju Sebass very busy with a long queen waiting to be served. And I asked Sinator Jay: “What do the customers think of Cameroon cuisine?”  He was quick to reply: “As you can see, the queen speaks for itself”
According to a statement by Kehitysyhteistyön palvelukeskus (KEPA) ahead of this year’s festival, the main organizer of the festival, the inclusion of food delicacies as one of the important umbrellas of the festival is just one way of fighting against hunger, drawing the attention of everyone to world hunger, and seeking to improve the situation.

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KEPA boasts that she has over the years used the festival to fight racism and the cancellation of debts of poor countries.
Moreover, the KEPA statement added, one of the main goal of  Maailma Kylässä is to make everyone living in Finland feel at home.
 In fact One very remarkable thing about the festival is that everything exhibition is free of charge, including the concerts and arts displays. In short, KEPA made sure hat poverty was no barrier to taking part in the festival.
 

   But Maailma Kylässä is also an occasion for various campaigns. So many pressure groups such as the International Organization for Migration, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Network Institute for Global Democratization, One World, etc were actively involved at the festival, speaking about their various campaigns. Some such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace had petitions to sign against various atrocities or environmental harm activities across the globe.

Both secular and religious groups were also actively involved in concerts.

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Some groups have actually began their career with Maailma Kylässä. One of these is The Rasmus band. They were the icon of the pioneer Maailma Kylässä in 1995,  winning the the “Ääni and Vimma” (Sound and Fury) award for their brilliant performance. In a statement of acknowledgement, one of the leading singers posted a statement o this year’s festival website thus:

“World Village Festival was our first big gig. It was a big thing for us because it was in Helsinki and all our friends came to see us. Afterwards we stayed around to dig the other gigs… There was this bohemian groove and a lot of different events going on in the tents. I’ve got nice memories of it.”

 

 

 

 

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