The second annual Festival of African Unity returns to Indy this weekend

Bringing the community together for its second year, the Festival of African Unity returns to the Global Village Welcome Center on May 20.

Hosted by the African Council of Indiana in partnership with the International Marketplace Coalition, the cultural festival aims to showcase “the vibrant multiculturalism and diversity of the African Indiana community” through traditional food, music and dance, art and more, Linky M. Ugeh and African Unity Fest Team, said in an email to Recorder.

“It is all about bringing the community together,” said Zak Sounkere, Treasurer of the African Council, “and showcasing all the different cultures with the diversity that is present in the African community as a whole.”

The African Council of Indiana is a non-profit organization dedicated to “raising awareness around and advocating issues affecting African communities in Indiana.” The Council is an independent volunteer organization with a vision to improve the presence of the African community in Indiana and to give a voice to issues affecting African communities.

African Unity Fest is still relatively new to Indy – only its second year – but the festival invites community members to come together to celebrate African heritage through diverse music, good food and bright, colorful African fashion, Sounkere said.

Edith Dube, chair of the Celebrate Committee, said Indiana has a large African community with rich and vibrant traditions – from food to music and dance to art and clothing – but these are often overlooked.

“So much about us is unknown in this place… and there’s so much room for variety,” said Dube. “So we took a page with notes from different nationalities, such as the Italian Festival, the Greek Festival, for example, ‘Okay, why don’t we introduce ourselves too? “

Sounkere said that the festival is also a good opportunity for people who have no idea about African culture to learn about the customs, entertainment and taste the cuisine of their African friends and neighbors. He said he encourages people to get out of their comfort zone and discover something new.

While the festival seeks to expose Hoosiers to the African diversity of their neighbors while educating them about Africa’s rich history, it also aims to promote cross-cultural acceptance and integration, and to foster and strengthen relationships between the different cultures represented in the community.

Dube said that one of the ways they do this is to show the multiculturalism and exuberance of different African countries through color, because there is no African nation without color. She said they encourage visitors to wear bright colors and ethnic clothing.

The Festival of African Unity will begin with a parade at 12:30 p.m. starting at Office Plaza and going through Lafayette Road and Office Plaza Boulevard. Dube said festival attendees can take part in a parade featuring 54 flags representing 54 African countries.

The festival will also feature performance art such as African drumming, live music and dancing, family-friendly activities for guests, as well as local vendors selling goods and promoting their businesses.

“In our culture, we say there’s no connection without food,” said Dube. “Food is a key element of our hospitality and this is how we show our love. That’s why we encourage people to try our food.”

African Unity Fest will take place at the Global Village Welcome Center, 4233 Lafayette Road, on May 20 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Participation in the festival is free; however, we encourage guests to pre-register on Eventbrite. For more information and questions about the festival, please visit

Contact writer Chloe McGowan at 317-768-7848 or Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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