2022’s Little Africa Festival Manager Ian Oundo is excited to be working on an event that he says is “for us, by us.”
“Little Africa Festival is a festival that celebrates our culture, art, music, dance traditions, and really a festival that tells our story as Africans,” said Oundo. “It’s a festival that really celebrates the African immigrant community – who we are as immigrants, but also who we are as Black people.”
Ian says the festival serves to unite Minnesota’s diverse Black community, and also amplify Black cultural narratives for all to experience.
“The festival itself is an opportunity for us to tell our story as immigrants and as Black people, and I think that's an important thing,” said Ian. “Often we say to people, ‘if you don't tell your story, somebody else is going to tell that story for you.’ And we believe that the festival allows us the opportunity to take that space and tell our story the way it should be told.”
Ian is excited that the festival has grown so much, that it’s taking up significant space on a major thoroughfare.
“The great thing I think - the addition that we're very proud of this time around is that the entire stretch of Snelling Avenue from University all the way to Lafond Avenue is going to be closed off for the entire time the festival is running. So from 12pm to 9pm Snelling is going to be a place for foot traffic and people are going to have an amazing time, walking up and down and seeing all the activities.”
[[Jasmine McBride]] Ian says his favorite part of the festival is watching the cultural differences within the Minnesota Black community be a point of connection rather than division.
I think one of the things that I believe in is that the more we learn and interact with each other as a people, the more grace we have towards each other. And I believe that the festival is an opportunity not only for us, as immigrants, and as Africans or black people to tell our story and to enjoy that space for that day, but it's also an opportunity for us and for the entire Minnesota to come and enjoy with us. We believe that by creating this space, it will allow us to be a little bit more connected to one another, and I think that's what it's all about.
Little Africa Festival takes place at Hamline Park in St. Paul from 12pm to 9pm, Saturday, August 7th.