After last year’s cancellation, organizers of Africa Fest 2021 hope to bring the same celebratory sentiment back to McPike Park on Saturday, Aug. 21.
“Africa Fest is a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn about African culture and traditions directly from the Africans who live here,” Ray Kumapayi, chair of the Africa Fest Planning Committee, wrote in a news release. “Whatever the motivation to attend, one thing guaranteed is the experience for a deeper appreciation of Africa and Africans.”
The celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 202 S. Ingersoll St.
Events include the sought-after Parade of Nations, the 3K/5K run/walk dubbed the ‘Strides for Africa,’ food from at least six different food stands, arts and craft vendors and onstage performances.
An estimated 3,000 people attend the event to share in African culture, he said. And one of the most popular events is the parade, where hundreds of people hold flags from the 54 African nations.
“Seeing that and being on stage and looking at people from all walks of life carrying a flag for a country makes me very proud of what we do,” Kumapayi said.
The theme this year is a familiar one, highlighting the Kingdoms of Africa, said Kumapayi who is also the president of the African Association of Madison, Inc.
“There are so many kingdoms and great civilizations in Africa, it takes more than a year to showcase all of them. Why don’t we continue to explore the theme that we began to explore in 2019,” Kumapayi said.
Another important event is the Stride For Africa run/walk which will start at 10 a.m. to kick off the event. All the proceeds from the event are used to build water wells in Africa.
“People would have to walk for miles to get fresh water for springs,” Kumapayi said. “We’ve been able to build these wells in over six countries in Africa. We collaborate with folks here who adopt kids from Africa to collect these donations. The entirety of those fees goes to building the wells.
“And we are hoping to expand in other communities in rural Africa.”
In addition to the regular events, there will also be a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
The children’s tent and likely the “African Walk Through” tent will be scaled down, Kumapayi said, to ensure social distancing of participants.
“We want to encourage people to get vaccinated so we can starve this virus off,” he said.
The event takes over a year to plan, and requires help from a variety of people including the City of Madison, the event committee and sponsors such as this year’s presenting sponsor, Madison Gas & Electric. Because the African Association of Madison, Inc. is a nonprofit, Kumapayi said the event could not take place without help from the entire city.
“I’ve been coining Africa Fest as a Madison celebration,” he said.