The African Festival of Arts took me to Washington Park, located at 53rd and Cottage Grove. Tickets to the African Fest could be bought at all Chicago Walgreens locations for $10.00. Tickets at the door were $20.00.
The African Fest started off with a lot of rain. However, it only lasted for five minutes and after that, the weather was beautiful. As I walked in, I met a Jamaican vendor who told me that the African Fest was not only for Africans, but it was also for Caribbeans, West Indies, Trinidadians, and Jamaicans. This was similar to what I heard last week at the Cuban Fest, where I met a lot of Puerto Rican and Mexican residents. Diversity is beautiful. You can travel the world without leaving Chicago.
I came to the African Fest with a few predetermined questions. I wanted to know if there was an undercover beef brewing between Africans and African Americans. One group of people came to the U.S. as slaves and oppressed, and another group of people came to the U.S. in search of better opportunities. I wanted to know if this led to different perspectives and was the cause of a tension that's so taboo nobody mentions it.
I talked to Mohammed from Mauritania, and African Country that's just north of Senegal. He told me we are all brothers and share the same blood. He said that if there was any disconnect, it's frivolous at best. "We have to connect more. The disconnect doesn't make sense. We are one!
I talked to another African guy who told me he was from the west coast of Africa, and I realized how ignorant I was about African geography. He told me that nobody from Africa says they're from Africa. They say their from specific sides or they name their country affiliation. That reminded me of Chicagoans who define themselves as being from the north side, south side, west side, instead of being from a greater whole.
After all that tough talk, I decided to grab a drink so I had a ginger beer, a drink many Africans enjoy. I thought it was an alcoholic beverage because it had beer in its name, but it really tasted like ginger root and selsa water. My Khmer Naga Canvas Lace Up shoes grabbed a lot of attention. Three people offered to buy them right off my feet. I'll have to tell my friend Raaja, who ownsBucketfeet, a company that exists to celebrate self-expressionand connect people through art,
The art work at the African Fest was amazing. Here's a tip, though, Chicago, get a square app to sell your merchandise. I'm actually glad a few vendors didn't have a square app, because I'd be broke.