The fundamental purpose of the African festival is to celebrate Africa and share our African heritage with our host community. It’s a way to foster understanding between all the co-cultures that exist in Utah. We could stop there and still provide a strong imperative for companies and organizations working to strengthen our community to lend their financial support to the event.
However, we have deeper reasons for putting this great community celebration together. We want to educate African youth, connect Africans, and promote African culture.
1. Educate African Youth about their rich culture of their parents
African youth is experiencing profound identity issues. This is particularly visible in our refuse communities. Indeed, most refugee parents struggle with what most people take for granted. The children that these families have brought with them are now teenagers. They don’t consider themselves Africans, and they can’t genuinely claim the African-American experience either. The result is a whole generation of conflicted young people who are ashamed of their roots and adopt the destructive behaviors they see on TV.
By celebrating Africa openly, we are telling them they have no reason to feel any shame about their heritage. We are bringing families together and also allowing them to discuss their particular cultural heritage.
2. Connect Africans
We have three groups of Africans in Utah: refugees, immigrants, and students. Many organizations dedicate significant resources to helping the refugee community. One unintended consequence is a segregation between refugees and the other groups.
Understandably, immigrants don’t see themselves as refugees, so they stay out of any event that is specifically targeting refugees. Similarly, refugee communities tend to stay away from events put together by
non-refugee communities. The purpose of the United Africans of Utah is to empower all Africans in the State of Utah. We see no better way to bring all Africans together for a day of celebration
than this festival. If the first year is any indication, we have seen people from every African community present in the Salt Lake Valley.
3. Promote African Culture
This event allows people from different backgrounds to discover African culture in a way that is not possible otherwise. Because the event is family friendly, many Utah families can partake in the festivities. The African festival is the perfect opportunity to expose everyone to the diversity of Africa and to break the general monolithic view that most people have of the continent.
We are celebrating Africa as a continent, but we are also celebrating our individual countries. All the countries represented in one place for everyone’s enjoyment. We think these reasons are critical to the creation of a stronger community; a community in which every citizen feels welcome and can contribute fully.