Africa Fest 2020 brought African culture to the people of Columbia

The event showed the community of Columbia African culture and pride by displaying traditional and modern music and dance.

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Missouri Theatre was alight with song and dance at Africa Fest 2020. With performances by University Percussion Ensemble, Mizzou Made in Africa and Harambee Dance Company, Africa Fest brought the spirit of Africa to the stage. The fest was hosted by Executive Director Linda Schust at Jabberwocky Studio. Schust has put a lot of effort into the fest and loves to see the community come together for the event.

“This is a really fun, engaging way to get to learn about a lot of people that are already living here in our community and on campus,” Schust said. “Columbia is home to a lot of immigrants and refugees from African countries, so it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors.”

Africa Fest featured a lot of performances that used elements of the culture. The main act was performed by Harambee Dance Company from New York City. It performed a dance to African drum songs using a blend of traditional, modern and contemporary dance. Volunteer Ann Obadan loved the performance and the inclusivity of it all.

“The Harambee performance was the height of it all because we could see the progression,” Obadan said. “They had the very African attire initially, then they had the modern attire. It was telling us the story of how African music has grown and changed.”

The event brought many different people together to celebrate one culture. The event was an opportunity for people unfamiliar with African culture to learn more about it. Audience member Mash Kamuru loves that the fest is able to show and educate people. Kamuru was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, so the inclusivity of the event was very meaningful to him.

“As an African, I think the African culture, in particular, is not necessarily always forefront or celebrated in the diaspora by the majority,” Kamuru said. “Those segments of when American society that, when you think of them, you can easily and quickly identify them for what they bring to the American fabric, and I think it's time for Africans to also be recognized.”

Africa Fest allows African culture to be seen by many people. It helps show the community the culture and allows people within the culture to feel at home. Africa Fest helps bring the community together and educate others to get to know their fellow neighbors.

Edited by Sophie Stephens | sstephens@themaneater.com

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