This Saturday, April 5, 2014, will mark Sumter’s 9th Annual Sankofa Cultural Festival. Starting at 11 a.m., the grounds at Mt. Pisgah AME Church (corner of South Washington and Bartlette Streets) will overflow with ceremonies, performances and vendors who will, in the words of event organizer Natalie Williams, “promote cultural awareness and stimulate historical learning.”
The Akon word “Sankofa” originated in Ghana and means “remember the past, to build the future.” Ms. Williams views the festival not just as a fun and educational experience, but a way to get different cultures to reach out to one another. “It’s also about networking,” she says, “bringing different segments of the community together.”
The festival begins with a ceremonial introduction of the Festival Queens, Tiye, Nandi, Hetepheres, Hatshepsut, and the most widely-known of them all, Cleopatra. After that, the event kicks into high gear with performances including the Brothers of Harmony, a singing group who are all relatives of the late Brook Benton. Their vocal style includes R&B and a touch of gospel. Contemporary music will be provided by the duo Evolutionary Soul.
There will also be a limbo event, featuring the Condor Arts Integral Magnet drumline (although I don’t think I’ll be trying that one!). More drum performances, yoga, Hawaiian dance, storytelling, poetry and much more will round out the event.
Vendors for this year will have a variety of interesting merchandise, including sweetgrass baskets, original art, books, henna tattoos, and toys. And with an eye towards the African-American community, there will also be educational exhibits on sickle cell and blood pressure.
The festival starts at 11 a.m. and will continue until 5 p.m. Admission is FREE; refreshments will be for sale, and as with many local festivals, a folding chair is a great idea! Sorry, but pets are not permitted (with the exception of service animals). Mt. Pisgah AME Church is located at 217 West Bartlette Street; ample parking is available. For more information, please call Ms. Natalie Williams at (803) 406-0832.
NOTE: There will be additions made to this post uo to 12 p.m. on Friday, April 4. Please check back for updates.
by Colette Daniels