13th Annual AfroFest 2018 Promotes Solidarity And Unity
AfroFest 2018 takes place February 5 to the 9 in the University of Windsor’s CAW Student Centre.
During a five day celebration in February, the University of Windsor campus transforms with African diasporic culture as a commemoration to the rich history of Africa and the contributions of its people throughout the world.
“This event works to highlight the triumphs and tribulation of the past and the present,” describes Event Coordinator Paula Ajala-Alexis. “‘AfroFest’ is an event that celebrates the food, dance, diversity, clothing, talents, and unique qualities the Black community has to offer.”
Ajala-Alexis adds the event works to bring tough issues to light by hosting a plethora of discussion panels and information sessions.
AfroFest 2018 (Facebook.com/AfroFestUOW) takes place in February each year because it is “Black History Month” in Canada and recognized as “African Heritage Month” by the City of Windsor and surrounding communities.
The event is open to the public and Ajala-Alexis believes everyone should attend the festival because it is a great way to experience Black culture, which she says is foreign to many.
“‘AfroFest’ also fosters an environment of open questioning, so for anyone who has had questions about the black community or a certain aspect of it, this is the place to do it,” she notes. “We would love to have people outside of the university come be a part of this event.”
This is the 13th annual AfroFest 2018 hosted at the University of Windsor. While the majority of events are free, Ajala-Alexis points out there are a few with affordable fees.
Hundreds typically attend throughout the week, and the event continues to grow and evolve each year, always with a focus on unity and giving back to the community. For this year’s “AfroFest,” Ajala-Alexis and her team have made it very diverse.
“By working with several of the other services on campus, we’ve been able to add a LGBT+ event, an art hub, and much more,” she advises. She adds a highlight each year is the dance lesson by Hiyada Diaspora (Detroit) and drumming lessons by Alpha Drumming (Toronto).
Over the years, reception from the community has been very positive, according to Ajala-Alexis. She comments that since the event is very open, the general public tends to enjoy it and joins in frequently.
“I’ve heard a lot of praise for last year’s “AfroFest,” and that’s a reminder that this year should be as good or better,” she expresses.
It’s suiting the event is held on the University of Windsor campus, Ajala-Alexis remarks, because it’s an opportunity to share knowledge and information about Black culture and history.
“As we are an institution of learning, we acknowledge that we must provide cultural and educational programming that will not only entertain, but also enlighten the campus community and promote cross cultural exchange,” explains Ajala-Alexis. “This year, our main goal is to expand “AfroFest” and to reach a larger audience than ever before. We are seeking performers, guest speakers, sponsorship, networking opportunities and/or donations.”
“AfroFest” also aims to bring “Blackness” to the mainstream.
“Since a lot of the awesome things Black people do are not commonly seen by the general public, this event works to do so,” she states. “We’re working to bring Black solidarity and a better sense of community to the University of Windsor campus. This event is about Black people and Black culture, for everyone.”