As summer officially begins, the African community in Minnesota has a whirlwind of events and celebrations lined up. First up, is a tournament encompassing the world’s most celebrated sport. The Kenyan community will be hosting its annual Toyoyo event here in Minneapolis during the long July 4th weekend that will involve nine states.
Toyoyo is the largest soccer tournament in the Kenyan diaspora. The annual national event is held in the month of July and this year, Minneapolis is the host city. Toyoyo has its roots on the eastern part of Nairobi as a youth soccer tournament that has been taking place for years. In Kenya, the youth that played in the event were young amateurs that later qualified to play for the Kenyan National team. The tournament transcended into the diaspora as some of the former players moved overseas where they continued the tradition. About ten years ago, Dallas h
osted the first Toyoyo event in the US. The city now serves as the tournament’s headquarters in the United States.
Toyoyo is more than just soccer. The event is “like a mini festival” said Kilimanjaro’s George Ndege “it’s bringing Kenyans together through soccer.” Mr. Ndege is the official caterer for the festivities. He is responsible for feeding the players and providing food that will be available for purchase to the public. “Toyoyo is a soccer tournament and the essence of that is to take people back home,” said Ndege.
Organizers of the event are trying to replicate the nostalgic experience of the game from the homeland. At the event, spectators can expect to see individuals dressed in Kenyan memorabilia and enjoying delicious ethnic foods while meeting with their friends and supporting their teams.
The festival has something for everyone. Inflatable fun houses and loads of games for kids and families as well as entertainment late into the night for the adults. There will be disk jockeys (DJs) and entertainment every day of the tournament. Starting with open night, after the matches there will be entertainment provided featuring some local DJs and a surprise international DJ. The following day on Friday there will be a boat party down the Saint Croix River.
“It’s going to be a once in a lifetime event” said Anne Mochi while explaining the highly anticipated boat party. Mochi has set herself apart as one of the top local DJs distinguishing herself in a male dominated field. She is signed on to Generation NOW, the official DJ company for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Twin and the Minnesota Lynx. The boat party will have Kenyan food included in the ticket purchase and an array of entertainment. As the headliner for the night and a Minnesota local, Mochi, who goes by her stage and trade name of DJ Mochi Baybee, is ready to impress the guests, “it’s time for me to showcase what Minnesota really has.” The Minnesota Toyoyo hosts expect sold out events. “I guarantee it’s going to be out of this world,” said Mochi.
On the last day of the festivities, Saturday July 6, there will be a halftime show during the last game headlined by local talent Fanaka. A closing ceremony and trophy presentation will follow. The reveal of the next host city will be announced shortly after.
The games this year are taking place in Minnesota on July 4th to the 6th. As of the time of this posting, nine states were listed as participating (Georgia, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas).
Games & Event Schedules:
Visit the Toyoyo website for the full lineup.