Detroit’s African World Festival Celebrates Culture and Heritage

Detroit’s African World Festival Celebrates Culture and Heritage
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A few weeks ago, my daughter Michala (14) had expressed an interest in learning more about our African American culture. Since we homeschool, I had suggested that we add African American studies to our Fall school curriculum.

Fast forward to August 17th, I’m on Facebook searching through upcomingawfsign-goodlifedetroit events in the Detroit area for us to possibly attend for the weekend, and I came across an event announcement for the 34th Annual African World Festival (AWF) at the Charles  H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Perfect timing! I wasn’t even looking for an event related to African American studies, but this was absolutely perfect.

So we made plans to attend Detroit’s African World Festival for Friday, August 19th and we were not disappointed. In fact, we loved it so much that we attended the event on Friday and Sunday!

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African World Festival in Detroit

When we arrived to the event, we immediately heard the drum call, played by Heritage Works, for the opening ceremony. Next we heard “The Black National Anthem”, also called “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”, performed  by Nicole Joseph, Soprano. Nicole sang beautifully! Hearing Nicole sing the Black National Anthem was also a great learning experience for myself, as well as my children, because we did not know there was even a Black National Anthem!

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing – often called “The Black National Anthem” – was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899. It was first performed in public in the Johnsons’ hometown of Jacksonville, Florida as part of a celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900 by a choir of 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School, where James Weldon Johnson was principal.

NAACP History

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Libations at the Opening Ceremony of the African World Festival (8/19/16 Detroit). Pictured: Queen Mother Dr. Osun Dara Nefertiti El
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Libations at the Opening Ceremony of the African World Festival (8/19/16 Detroit). Pictured: Queen Mother Dr. Osun Dara Nefertiti El

“When I met Queen Mother Osun Dara Nefertiti El, I felt great reverence for her because I could tell she was a woman of high standing. It was great meeting her because of what she taught me about paying homage to our ancestors.” -My son Elijah (16) on meeting Queen Mother Osun Dara Nefertiti El at the African World Festival in Detroit, MI.

Heritage Works at the Opening Ceremony
Heritage Works at the Opening Ceremony
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Opening ceremony at the African World Festival..
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One of the marketplaces featured at the African World Festival in Detroit.

 

I loved the shopping experience at the market at AWF. Many vendors were selling clothing, jewelry, natural hair products, cosmetics, art, and music, just to name a few. I wish I could have bought everything I liked, but I was able to get a few items for my children.

I bought my son a Dashiki and my young daughter a beautiful blue and yellow dress. I purchased some jewelry for myself and a toy for my 14 month old son. My teen daughter loved the African dresses and skirts, too. She found a few that interested her, but ended up selecting a black vintage dress at another market.

I also bought African fabrics from New York-based Yara African Fabrics. I bought 5 different designs because I regularly wear head-coverings. I love Yara’s fabrics and I will definitely purchase more from this company in the future!

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Zhen dancing at the African World Festival. She loved her dress so much!
Elijah used his own money to buy a hat at the market, and I bought him a Dashiki.
Elijah used his own money to buy a hat at the market, and I bought him a Dashiki.
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Beautiful dresses and skirts were sold at the festival, too.

We visited the Charles H. Wright African American Museum. Admission was offered at a discounted price of $5 because of the festival. The kids loved looking at the art and exploring the children’s area. I was really impressed with the great size of the museum and the different art exhibits.

My teens were pleasantly surprised to learn new facts about African American history and important African Americans, such as Botanist and Inventor George Washington Carver and first African American woman astronaut Mae Carol Jemison. Elijah said he liked how the children’s museum was very interactive. The museum features various learning stations where children can touch certain exhibits for a hands-on experience. My little ones enjoyed the kitchen area and playing with the puppets and touch screen computers.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capture photographs of our visit in the museum because cameras are not allowed in the museum. But I did capture this shot of my bunch in front of the museum.

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My children standing in front of the African American museum in Detroit. Admission was only $5 during the festival.

After our visit to the museum, we headed back to the main stage area to watch Al B. Sure perform. New Jack Swing’s R&B artist Al B. Sure performed on Friday evening and it was a great performance! Al B. Sure is a three-time Grammy-nominated artist, and I remember when I was younger, my mom listened to Al B. Sure so I became a fan, too. My favorite song of Sure’s is “Nite & Day”.  It was really nice seeing Al B. Sure perform and give the audience such a positive message. Even my sixteen-year-old was impressed with Sure’s performance and how uplifting the singer was.

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Al B. Sure performed on the first night of the festival.
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Al B. Sure

The African World Festival was an absolutely amazing experience! It was a phenomenal celebration of culture and heritage. The AWF was an enriching learning experience for my children, as well, as they learned more about African culture and African American History. My family loved every minute of the event and we look forward to attending next year’s festival!

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Chakaba at the African World Festival.

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Omowale Cultural Society performing traditional African dances on the first night of the festival
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The African World Festival was an amazing experience for our family!
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