City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts Presents First Africa FEST

By Editorial Team on August 31, 2018
Photo courtesy of the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts.
Event: Saturday, September 8 from 12pm to 5pm

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

The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts will transform the William Ramsay Recreation Center—located at 5650 Sanger Ave.—for a free celebration of Africa through dance, music, food, crafts, and culture. Africa FEST takes place Saturday, September 8; noon – 5 pm. 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’s Association, the Alexandria Black History Museum, and several African embassies.

“Everyone should attend,” said Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, African Union ambassador to the U.S. “In the words of Kwame Nkrumah [the first president of independent Ghana] ‘You are not African because you were born in Africa, you are African because Africa is born in you.’ On behalf of the African diaspora and friends of Africa, I thank the City of Alexandria for joining us in celebrating our Beloved Mother Africa.”

Masters of ceremony Eme Awa and Michael Shereikis, DJs on Jolly Papa Radio, keep visitors engaged throughout the afternoon for a whole host of activities:

  • Africa FEST begins with a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony with elected officials and dignitaries, hosted by Abyssinia Mart. The ceremony marks the Ethiopian New Year and officially opens the festivities.
  • Ni Dembaya West African Drum and Dance Company leads the Parade of Nations, showcasing 55 African countries’ flags symbolizing unity and pride of the continent.
  • Cheick Hamala Diabate Band plays traditional West African music from Mali.
  • Fusion Flow performs with a mix of contemporary and traditional African music. Sponsored by the African Union Mission to the United State of America.
  • Ethio-American Estkita Dance Group performs traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean dances.
  • A cappella group Voices from Southern Africa (VUSA) sing traditional and folk songs, hymns, and choruses from Southern Africa.
  • Vendors sell food from Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, and Ethiopia.
  • Cultural exhibitions and interactive activities organized by several African embassies and other community partners.

“We’re really looking forward to this first Africa FEST,” said Cheryl Anne Colton, regional program director for the Office of the Arts. “We hope to see this grow and become a signature community-building event in the city’s West End. Equity, inclusion and access to the arts are so important to Alexandria.”

Sponsors for Africa FEST are Embassy of Nigeria; Gold Works by David Martin; INTotal Health; Jolly Papa Radio; Kathy Wilson Foundation; Rosenthal Landmark Honda; West End Business Association; and The Zebra.

The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the City’s Human Rights Code and the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request a reasonable accommodation or to request materials in an alternative format, contact Cheryl Anne Colton at 703.746.5565 (Virginia Relay 711) or

William Ramsay Recreation Center is located at 5650 Sanger Ave, Alexandria, VA. For more information, visit