This year began on a sweet note with the 4th annual MAnaFest Big Island, in Honor of the Sacred Feminine. The three-day event ran January 25-27 and was filled with heart exploding love and beauty, off the hook creativity and “non-stop ridiculously awesome music, according to one radiant festival participant.
There was something there for everyone from children to elders, and I appreciated the ceremonial aspects, opening and closing.” Unlike other festivals, MAnaFest felt very safe and present and clear.
We came together on this `Ãina as one family, at the feet of Mauna Kea, in the lap of Pele to celebrate ALL people unified to Honor the Sacred Feminine through live music, ecstatic dance, art, agricultural and educational workshops, woman-made merchandise, bodywork and culinary arts, all offered by Sisters of the Tribe.
Live Painters in the gallery were world-class artists Autumn Skye, Robyn Chance and Rose Drummond!
This year in honor of Pele, our local living Goddess, and the Wave of Women standing up all over the world, the festival theme was Earth Mother Rising.
The opportunities to gather families to enjoy art, culture, and music are rare in the Pahoa area of Puna. Since the recent east rift zone eruption, Hawaiian Sanctuary has become one of the few remaining venues with a special use permit that truly offers ‘sanctuary’ and a safe container for this alcohol-free event for all ages, celebrating community resilience, abundance, agricultural sustainability, women’s health and wellness, and economic empowerment.
The lounge area, spa, gardens, expansive tropical permaculture site, training and performance spaces were ideally suited to the Mission of the 7Sisters, the co-producers of MAnaFest Big island:
- Providing ongoing opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment (over 75 women profited);
- Inspiring and nurturing a lifelong love of learning and teaching – maidens, mothers, grandmothers;
- Benefitting the people of Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii, especially women and teenaged girls;
- Supporting a Zero Waste Initiative in order to put transformation and consciousness into action;
- Encouraging women and men from everywhere to join us at our event.
By inviting women and men from other islands, mainland USA and other countries to attend, we bring much-needed revenue to Puna, generating income for local women and building a positive reputation for the Pahoa area, for our Health and Wellness community, and for the local Hawaii Farmers Union United.
“The 2018 eruption brought us to our knees,” reported a community member, “Look at us rising up!”
The music was wonderful, and the goal of raising women’s voices was made manifest for sure! “It’s not just another ‘sausage fest’,” laughed one of the featured female musicians, Ydine of AnOtherEvolution, pointing out the fact that most festival line-ups consist predominantly of male acts.
On the Laka Lounge Stage local talent Imani Gentry-Faust of Ok2Change expressed onstage how “playing at MAnaFest has helped her realize that as a gay, black woman she is empowered, and proud to be able to offer her example to others.” Her male music partner Jay Lara also noted that “playing a yearly event which features women artists has changed the way the two play and compose their music together; their set was raw and vulnerable.”
Musical multi-talent Sarah Bethany moved our feet and turned up the heat with her new Latin ensemble BanDalari, before dashing over to Sanctuary Temple to run sound for the MainStage musicians. Sarah has stepped up through the years at MAnsFest to become one of the only local female sound technicians!
“I absolutely felt so inspired by the other women artists and I felt so much sisterhood amongst us”, said Big Island favorite Mary Isis. Hope Medford made her mark as percussionist for Medicine for the People, and then branched out as a musical medicine woman with several original CDs of her own. Hope returned from a temporary lava relocation, to wow MAnaFest with her new band CedarWing, with Robin Lewis and Aradhana Silvermoon of Asheville, NC.
Ydine rocked the house with her five-piece band and enough energy to make the movement move! And the late-night crowd went wild for Saratone, returned from Cascadia accompanied only by a harpist to headline with a dropped in and intimate dub set of Earth Tribe Gospel medicine music.
Empowerment is crucial for women, and to achieve this goal we must first be HEARD.
Too many women lead their lives feeling overlooked and under-appreciated, powerless, sexually oppressed, unacknowledged and without a voice. Through the example of powerful and professional female musicians and role models like Hope Jj Medford, Saratone, Mary Isis, Ydine Sandberg, Imani Gentry-Faust, Diane Patterson, Sarah Bethany, Dr. Unity Nguyen and more, we change that up, more and more!
“This community melts my heart again and again” raves a grateful fan, “Bowing Down!”
Le`a Colter, Co-founder of MAnaFest Big Island, is a change agent who engages people with warmth, humor, intelligence, respect for cultural differences, and a reality-based approach that encourages personal growth in all aspects of relationship
Photo Credit: Robert Kent