The annual UMOJA festival is going on in our town this weekend. The festival website says: “Our mission, “to bridge and unify diverse cultures through education and artistic presentations of art, culture and heritage” is to improve and promote the region. This FREE festival has all the typical events for the weekend including a parade, old car show, 5K run, food (OH the FOOD!), music on 3 stages, a kids’ park and so on. But what makes it so unique is its emphasis on Umoja, which means ‘UNITY’ in Swahili. This festival is meant to include everyone, not just a narrow slice of us.
The Shaka Zulu stilt walkers and dancers from New Orleans are performing throughout the weekend and are some of the most amazing performers I’ve ever seen.Their folk rituals originated in New Orleans by the African-American community-they used their drums and dances to pay respect and homage to Native Americans for their assistance in escaping the tyranny of slavery.I figure the Native Americans knew a thing or two about tyranny, huh?
I know this is last-minute but I hope you’ll get a chance to go downtown tonight to check out UMOJA- it goes on ’til about 11:30. Here’s the schedule:
I know we have many great festivals in this region to celebrate everything from Apples to Rockabilly, but none of them, that I’m aware of, strive to be so inclusive of minorities and to promote the badly needed idea of coming together, in work and play, in school and neighborhoods, to support one another, like Umoja does. Did I mention it’s FREE? Oh, and you can park in front of my house if you want. Free.
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