A Taste of Africa festival is returning to downtown Livermore this weekend, featuring various forms of art, outdoor music, dance performances and more.
The event is organized by local nonprofit Cheza Nami Foundation, which has a mission to "promote cultural education and diversity awareness to learning institutions, corporations, and communities that focus on fostering a more congenial relationship among its members," according to a statement from Livermore Valley Arts, which is a partner in hosting A Taste of Africa.
The family-friendly outdoor festival is set for Saturday (Oct. 1) on the Bankhead Plaza.
In addition to various food options derived from African and African diaspora cultures, festival-goers can visit vendor booths to purchase products sourced directly from Africa, according to Cheza Nami founder Ciiku Ndungu-Case.
There will also be a community drum circle, a reading library, a "Kids Zone'' equipped with hands-on learning experiences, musical instrument exploration, arts and crafts and face painting among the many activities.
"We want to bring these cultures to a space that's public and be as loud and exciting as we love and challenge the community to be accepting of it," Ndungu-Case told the Weekly about the initial vision behind A Taste of Africa, which has grown and expanded over the course of 10 years.
"When you think about the Lunar New Year or Diwali festival, everybody is excited about those things so we also want to contribute something to the richness of the vast array of diverse cultures that are represented in the community," Ndungu-Case added.
She also said that with A Taste of Africa, Cheza Nami is upholding a responsibility to share cultural art forms with others.
"You don't expect African traditional dancers to be upfront in downtown in the middle of businesses dancing -- that, for me, is amazing," she said. "It's living up to our responsibility that if you have something rich and wonderful to share, that we need to share it and enjoy it ourselves but also bring it to the community."
The time of year that A Taste of Africa takes place was also very intentional, according to Ndungu-Case. When initially organizing the event a decade ago, the obvious choice for when to hold the event was Black History Month. However, the organization decided that all celebrations of the diaspora shouldn't have to be crammed into one month.
"My assumption was, we don't stop to celebrate a community simply because a date has been reached; it's something that we should be doing throughout the year," she said.
She added, "I thought the fall was a perfect time because folks are starting to get really comfortable about the holidays. It's sort of when people really are celebrating but juxtaposed against the celebration of other communities and sort of the social celebrations that are formally set on the calendar, is a reminder that we don't have to be limited when we want to connect with the community."
Toward the end of the festival, Ndungu-Case said they are doing something a little different this year and transitioning into a night market that will serve as a kick-off to the Filipino Barrio Fiesta set for the next day (Oct. 2) on the Bankhead Plaza in honor of the start of Filipino American History Month.
"When the festival closes at 6 p.m. we're going to welcome our Filipino community," Ndungu-Case said. "The whole idea is about holding hands and celebrating one another so, we sort of set the stage for their event the following day."
A Taste of Africa is set for this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2400 First St. in Livermore. More information about the festival and Cheza Nami is available at www.chezanami.org.