30th Annual event had something for everyone, most importantly a sense of community
The 30th Annual African Festival of the Arts (AFA) offered something for everyone. Throngs of shoppers, fashionistas, lovers of handmade crafts, jewelry, artifacts and art aficionados crowded the distinctive villages – Kush, Nubia, Songhay and Timbuktu – where the feeling was that of a global bazaar. Everybody was a foodie in the Bank of the Nile where the food court offerings were global in nature. The message went out from the Drum Village and thousands stopped to listen; many joining in to learn the language of the drum. The entertainment stages started heating up on Friday night and never stopped with Marzette Griffin and Sam Chatman offering Chicago Steppers a night to remember; Rotimi and Wale mesmerizing the Saturday night crowds; The Kinsman and Donny McClurkin lifting the spirit on Sunday; and Terisa Griffin and the Ohio Players offered the swelling crowds a soulful way to end the Labor Day weekend. And countless other performers, DJ’s and entertainers wowed the crowds throughout the weekend.
Throughout the grounds of the Festival in Washington Park there was a feeling of family and community, a comradery that reached across generations from the Children’s Pavilion to the Heritage Pavilion to the Health & Wellness Pavilion. The African proverb, “it takes a village” was made manifest on the grounds for this 30th Annual celebration.
Joining AFA as a guest host for the weekend from the Dee Palmer Woodtor Main were comedian Damon Williams, host of ‘Seriously Ignorant News,” on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Sheila O., AIH board member, and international media personality, and Your Gospel Sister Pam Morris-Walton, AIH Board member and radio host. Guest hosts for the weekend included Ryan Baker, Irika Sargent and Mugo Odigwe.
Sponsors for the 30th Annual African Festival of the Arts include AC Green, AARP Foundation, AARP Illinois, Africa International House USA, AfroZons, Babystore, Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition, BET, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bonneville Academy Charter School, Bud Billiken Parade, CBS 2 Chicago, Chicago Alliance of African American Photographers (CAAAP), Chicago Cubs, Chicago Park District, Chicago Reader, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago White Sox, Circle Foundation, ComEd, County Care, Disney, Ethiopian Airlines, Field Foundation, Ford Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Gift of Hope, Illinois Art Council, IlliniCare, Illinois Lottery, Jewel-Osco, Luster Products, MacArthur Foundation, Navy Pier, Nielsen, NRG, Oak Street Health, Pepsico, Pigment International, Pillars Insurance, PNC Bank, Prince Charitable Trust, Rogers Auto Group, Rush Hospital, Senior Talk Radio, Starbucks, State of Illinois, Step North, Surfs Up Restaurant, T-Mobile, The Chicago Citizen Newspaper, The Chicago Crusader, The Circle Foundation, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, UChicago Medicine, UIC’s Urban Health Program, United Airlines, Veteran’s Affairs, Walmart, Wines of South Africa and WVON Radio.