African World Festival: 32 years of cultural significance
The 32nd annual African World Festival is not only an internationally explosive celebration of African cultures, food, music, handcrafts, visual arts, and more, it is an interactive weekend, Aug. 15 - 17, for everyone to take in the sights and sounds of the motherland on the expansive grounds of the historic Charles H. Wright African American History Museum, 315 E. Warren Ave. in midtown Detroit.
“We try to serve the full community, have a great time, and share with the greater community the wonderful things about our culture and tradition,” Njia Kai, festival director, said.
The festival, slated 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily, annually attracts visitors nationally and internationally, Njia said.
“We have a very loyal core group that attends the festival every year. There are tens of thousands of folks that make it their destination for a family reunion weekend, there is quite a bit of annual fellowship and reunion involved.”
And it is for a good reason. The festive three-day event is free to the public, and attendees can expect to experience everything from fashion to community drum calls.
One of many features include a noon-4 p.m. Aug. 15 Watoto Celebration, including a special field trip for summer youth programs, presentations, performances and games. The event is also open noon - 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Watoto is Swahili for “children.”
This year, the festival partnered with the Michigan State University Detroit Center and Food Plus Detroit to host a wide variety of lectures, demonstrations and presentations on the legacy of Africans and African Americans in agriculture 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday - Sunday.
The festival also partnered with the Dearborn-based Arab American National Museum to feature a film from Morocco inside the museum’s GM Theatre at 2:30 p.m. daily.
The international marketplace, described as “a hit” will have more than 150 vendors who feature art, accessories, jewelry, clothing and assortments of items handcrafted and imported.
With other great draws such as concerts by the Clark Sisters and Kiki Sheard at 6 p.m. Aug. 16, and a Detroit Rocks the Runway fashion show at 9 p.m. the same day, it will be hard to decide what to do first.
Here’s a tip: experience it all.
“We are open and inviting the full community to come in and take a sample of the culture, foods, arts, technology and entertainment that is featured at the event,” Njia said.
One of the festival’s favorite supporters, Heritage Works, a local cultural arts dance and drum company will sponsor African Folklife Village, an interactive installation where the public can view and participate in various traditional crafts and drum and dance.
Rhonda Greene, director of Heritage Works, said her company promotes youth, family and community development through cultural traditions, which is a culminating event at the festival.
“The African World Festival is an opportunity to showcase cultures from around the world that have been impacted by African traditions,” Rhonda said. “Folk Life is a celebration, and we primarily focus on folk traditions.”
From Senegal to Guinea, the installation will feature classes on Hip Hop and modern dance. A master quilter will also be in attendance. Other facets include showcasing the connection between African head wrapping and hats in the black community.
“There is a big connection,” Rhonda said.
For more information, go to www.AWFDetroit.com or call 248.494-5800.