2nd Annual Africa FEST Set for September 7 in West End

International festival celebrating African heritage, arts and culture in partnership with the African Union, Embassies, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and others.

Nigerian-American singer/songwriter Janeliasoul is the mistress of ceremonies. She will keep visitors engaged throughout the afternoon for a whole host of activities (subject to change). [Courtesy photo]
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The City of Alexandria will transform Patrick Henry Recreation Center, located at 4643 Taney Ave., for a free community-wide celebration of Africa through dance, music, food, crafts and culture. Africa FEST takes place Saturday, September 7, noon–5 p.m. Traditional African attire is encouraged.

Africa FEST is held in collaboration with the African Union Mission to the United States of America, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the Pan-African Diaspora Women Association and Youth Association, Alexandria Black History Museum and Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, through the Office of the Arts.

Several African embassies, including Angola, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Zambia, Nigeria and others will be represented. Ambassadors and dignitaries will participate in Africa FEST ceremonies and embassy staff will be on-hand with cultural displays and interactive activities:

  • Noon: Official Welcome and traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony with elected officials, dignitaries and special guests. This ceremony marks the Ethiopian New Year, which will be on September 12.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Ni Dembaya West African Drum and Dance Company performs and leads the parade of nations showcasing 55 African flags, symbolizing unity and pride of the continent.
  • 1:30 p.m.: VUSA: Voices from Southern Africa performs a cappella choral selections from South Africa and other Southern African nations.
  • 2:30 p.m.: Chosen Generation, an African dance youth group, performs dances from Cameroon.
  • 3:30 p.m.: Ethio Dankira performs traditional music from Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • 4:30 p.m.: Janeliasoul performs in her signature Nigerian soul and Afrobeat style.
  • 5 p.m.: Closing Remarks.

There will be drop-in hands-on activities all afternoon. Smithsonian National African Museum of Art leads sessions about African games. Teresa Brunson leads two painting workshops, 1:30-4:30 p.m. and Ni Dembaya teaches a drumming and dancing workshop at 1:30 p.m. Vendors will also be selling traditional food.

Ni Dembaya West African Drum and Dance Company.

Africa FEST originated as the annual Ethiopian New Year celebrations at the Oswald Durant Center, one of many cultural and ethnic celebrations hosted at the Center each year. With community support, it broadened to a Pan-African event and outgrew the capacity of the Durant Center and even the William Ramsay Recreation Center. This year marks the second year Africa FEST will take place in Alexandria’s West End neighborhood and the first time at Patrick Henry.

Sponsors for Africa FEST are African Union Mission to the USA, Kathy Wilson Foundation, Gold Works by David Martin; West End Business Association, Marta Ali Studios and The Zebra.

For reasonable disability accommodation, contact arts@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.5592, Virginia Relay 711.

About Alexandria’s Office of the Arts

The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities promotes the value of arts and culture in Alexandria by nurturing, investing in and celebrating the creative contributions of artists and arts organizations through the Office of the Arts division. By engaging the community, encouraging participation, and facilitating access to the arts, RPCA works with local artists and arts organizations to build a vibrant community for all of the City’s residents, workers and visitors. Learn more at alexandriava.gov/arts or follow @alexartsoffice on Instagram and Twitter. Add to the conversation with #artsALX.