Saturday, August 10, 2013

Afrifest Went Well, Including a Visit by Senator Al Franken

It was a sunny day today in Minnesota and Afrifest 2013 took place, as planned, at the Northview Junior High School in Brooklyn Park.

As promised, there were children's games. There was not an idle moment for them. In addition to the games, the children  got to learn a little bit of African drumming. I stopped by several times to take pictures, and on one of those occasions, I was able to hear the master drummer telling the children the place of the drum in traditional African culture. I heard him talk about how Africans used the drum to communicate messages.

The "gates" were open at noon, and people came and went throughout the rest of the day.

There were a number of vendors, such as Liberation Clothing and Gifts & which was also present at last year's Afrifest.

Wells Fargo, a major sponsor of Afrifest, was there, just as in the past. Many festival volunteers came from Wells Fargo. They were very visible in their red t-shirts.

The festival proceeded against the backdrop of music from different parts of Africa. The DJs did a remarkable job, playing a wide variety of African music.

Here is the food stand. Their food, including rice and chicken, was terrific.

As an educator, I share knowledge about the African experience. In addition to my books, I hung posters on the fence behind me. These posters--text and pictures--deal with Africa, Africans, and African diaspora across the ages. They describe and discuss Africa as the origin of human beings, the evolution of African kingdoms, slavery and the slave trade, with particular emphasis on the global nature of slavery and the slave trade, not just the trans-Atlantic dimension. There are posters on colonialism, the struggle against it, panAfricanism, contemporary challenges and future prospects.

A few minutes after 4:30, Senator Al Franken (Democrat, Minnesota) showed up. There was much excitement as people crowded around him to greet him and talk with him. What a generous and gentle man. He genuinely appears to enjoy meeting people. Everyone who wanted to take pictures with him did so. It was a truly memorable day.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Afrifest Twin Cities is Here Again, August 10

Afrifest 2013 is just around the corner, August 10. A pan-African educational and cultural festival designed to educate and connect people, Afrifest has been around for seven years now, its crowning achievement being an annual festival showcasing the history, politics, arts and culture of people of African descent.

Over the years, Afrifest has featured musical performances, fashion shows, vendors and educational displays. There are a lot of activities and games for children.

I have always been touched to see children meet and play with children from different countries and cultures. Afrifest is an opporttunity for them to cultivate a pan-African consciousness at an early age.

In these seven years, through my involvement with Afrifest, I have met and learned about many many people: Africans, African-Americans and others. I cherish the connections I have made.

Every individual, whether from Africa, the Caribbean or the USA or elsewhere has unique experiences and perspective. Talking to each of them is like going through a valuable educational experience. Equally important is the opportunities I have to share my own experiences and perspective as an African, a writer, educator and cultural consultant.

On the left is the booth of Liberation Clothing & Gifts from Afrifest 2012. I bought a lovely Bob Marley T-shirt here.

From the beginning, I have involved my own children in Afrifest, because I know the social and educational value of such involvement. They get to meet different people and see the displays representing different countries and cultures.

I always set up a table, as one of the vendors, on which I display my books and other educational materials. My children enjoy assisting me. They are able to talk to people about my writings and my work as an educator and cultural consultant. They are able to speak to the media on my behalf, as can be seen in the photo on the left.

As a member of the Afrifest Foundation board, I wish to invite everyone  to Afrifest 2013. Just to give you a sense of the diversity of Afrifest offerings this year, there will be a soccer tournament, health and wellness fair, vendors, food, and games for children. As a parent, who firmly believes in the value of events and programs such as Afrifest, I encourage all parents to bring their children to Afrifest 2013. For more information, visit the Afrifest website