Milwaukee African Cultural Festival; music, food and more showcased

The African Cultural Festival returned to Milwaukee on Saturday, July 6.

It took a dedicated group of volunteers to bring the festival back for the first time since 2019.

"I see this as a unifying event for our community," said organizer Oluwayimika Olapo. "Bringing all African people together today under one roof – the roof being the sky – and to showcase our culture."

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African culture, communities

The festival showcased and celebrated the entire continent of Africa and its many diverse communities. 

"Africa is not one country; it is a continent," Olapo said. "We have over 54 countries, and we have representatives from most of those countries here today."

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African Cultural Festival at Brown Deer Park

Organizers brought a lively montage of art, dance and music – a broad sampling – to Brown Deer Park. The Flavors of Africa tent was a must for visitors.

"We call it a culinary journey. You’re going to get a journey of the different African flavors," said Cordelia Ekwueme, the festival's president. "Some spicy, some hot, we hope it will please every palate."

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Resources for refugees

Saturday was not just about exposing southeast Wisconsin to wonderful tastes, sights and stories of African communities. It was about fostering and developing the next generation. Money raised from the festival will provide language training and education for African refugees – resources and support that will help the community grow and thrive in the state for years to come.

"We have noticed when a lot of them come through, they have a language barrier, and then there’s a cultural shock," Olapo said.

"What we want to provide is culturally competent training, because we understand where they’re coming from, sometimes it gets lost in translation," said Ekwueme.