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African Festival Brings Traditions to Central Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa -- If you are looking for something to do on Friday, Africans in Iowa for Empowerment is hosting the Celebrate Africa festival (Muyamah Muyay) in Western Gateway Park.

“We put this together because we learned there was a need for Africans to showcase their culture, to celebrate it, and to share that rich culture with non-Africans, our neighbors and friends,” said AIFE Communications Advisor Victor Ayara.

Ayara said this is going to be the biggest festival they have ever had.

“The thing with this year is it is the third edition and we have more participation from over 20 African countries. We have the Sudanese dancers, we have the unity cultural dance mask, which is going to bring the masquerade. We also have a Bollywood dance group, an Indian dance group celebrating with us, ” Ayara said.

Admission is free, and in addition to dance shows and music there will be food and products available for sale.

Ayara moved to the United States from Nigeria to give his family a wonderful life, but he said it is important to teach his children to hold onto their African roots.

“In Africa we hold very strong communal values. So getting together is the most important thing for me. Of course I haven’t seen a masquerade in four years of being here,” Ayara said.

The festival is from 11 a.m. - 10 pm. at Western Gateway Park located at 1300 Grand Avenue.