Celebrating African culture

Members of the Asase Yaa Dance Theater.
Photo by Amun Ankhra
Photo by Amun Ankhra

The 42nd Annual International African Arts Festival (IAAF) comes back to Brooklyn on Thursday, July 4 and runs through Sunday, July 7, and will be held at Commodore Barry Park, located at Park Avenue and Navy Street, downtown Brooklyn.

Summer is here and IAAF is bringing and celebrating African culture with a fabulous festival with entertainment and activities for the whole family. The festival is open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. each day. The line up of entertainment includes live performance of R&B, jazz, hip hop, gospel, South African, Caribbean and Brazilian music, dance from various African traditions, natural hair and fashion shows, martial arts and its famous traditional African Market place with outstanding crafts, clothing, food and more. Some of you will visit and patronize your favorite vendors, many of which come to New York only for this event. For the children, there are performances just for them that are always safe and enjoyable. Then there is chess, the arts and craft zone, storytelling, clowns, the playground, a green grass meadow and shade to relax in under the trees. “Ndunga!” (Justifier/Justice in the Congolese tradition) is the theme of IAAF for 2013.

Everyday there is a different line up of great music and dance. On July 4, jazz legends, Doug and Jean Carn perform, the band Southside and crowd pleasing African dance troupe Maimouna Keita, the conscious hip hop group Topic, music by DJ Ace & Finesse, the Going Natural Hair Show, a demonstration by Debranche United Shotokan Karate and for the children, the troupe, Eki’s Famous Performing Arts and many others.

On the following days the schedule includes: South African singer, Thuli Dumakude of the original cast of Lion King, R&B vocalist Maverick Gaither (a chart-topper in England), African Caribbean dance troupe, Something Positive, female hip hop group Black Orfan, magician, Phillip Jennings, Funk band, Inner Roots/Born to Boogie, Brazilian singer, Jacqueline Ribas, the Jeff King Band, Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Impact Repertory Theater, a revue with members of The Queens of Fela: The Musical, Rome Neal’s Motown Review, the electrically-charged, Asase Yaa Dance Theater, Fusha Dance Company, gospel singer, Sister Betty and the group Changing Hearts and a Natural Hair and Beauty Show.

On Saturday, July 6, the festival’s annual parade in which fans are encouraged to participate along with marching bands and dancers will begin at 1:00 p.m. at Fulton Street and Vanderbilt Avenue and culminate at the festival’s site, Commodore Barry Park. There is a suggested donation at the gate, which will make you eligible to win some fabulous prizes. Further information visit www.iaafestival.org or call: 718-638-6700.

Also on Saturday, NAKO, the New York Chapter of Kawaida Organizations will host its 24th Annual Symposium on Culture, Community and Struggle. This year’s theme is entitled, “Long, Lingering and Festering Issue that Demand Justice-Ndunga,” The NAKO Symposium, which is the intellectual component to the International African Arts Festival, brings together scholars and activists to highlight, discuss and offer concrete solutions and programs to the many problems and issues confronting the global African community while raising the consciousness of the community.

This year the panelist and invited speakers will include an update on the Central Park Five Case with victims, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana as well as Sharonne Salaam. Addressing the issue of “Stop and Frisk” will be a report by Attorney Darius Charney; Attorney Margaret Burnham will report on unsolved Civil Rights cases; Professor Yaa-Lengi Ngemi, Black Star publisher, Milton Allimadi and a representative from the organization, Friends of the Congo will participate on a panel addressing “The Crisis in the Congo.” Sandra Bell, Dr. C. Daniel Dawson and Alex Lasalle will explain the Congolese Ndunga Concept.

Ndunga, which means justifier/justice and is IAAF’s theme for 2013, is a Congolese Masquerade that represents the persistent dilemma of violence and discrimination against women worldwide. A panel will discuss and give acknowledgement in celebration to the activist educator, Jitu K. Weusi and the Education Challenge by educators Professor Sam Anderson, Michael Hooper and chair of New York NAKO, Dr. Segun Shabaka. Closing remarks will be by New York State Senator Eric Adams and Dr. Michael Tillotson.

This program will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at PS 287, Navy Street and Flushing Avenue located near the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There is an admission charge with a discount for seniors. Inquires: email: [email protected] or call: 718-789-3264.

Photo by Amun Ankhra
Photo by Amun Ankhra

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