Afro advocacy

Women dance a cultural dance with buckets placed on top of their heads.

GK Folks Foundation’s second annual Afro Utah Festival was held on Sept. 24 at the Gallivan Center. The festival is a cultural event that celebrates pride and heritage while promoting diversity, inclusion and equality for African American, Black immigrants and people of Afro descent in Utah.
“The idea of having a festival is so that the community can understand us as immigrants, understand us as black people, understand where we are coming from so we can have a coexisting peaceful nature,” Gloria Mensah, the executive director of GK Folks Foundation and founder of the Afro Utah Festival, said.
The Afro Utah Festival wants to educate people and prevent assumptions. Afro descent comes in different shapes, sizes and skin tone.
The festival began with a welcome speech and sponsor recognition from GK Folks Foundation representatives. After the speech, the Afro experience began with dance groups from Jamaica, South America and Sudan. There were also live bands that immersed attendees in South American, African and African American and Caribbean culture.
It was an educational event with the master of ceremony teaching the attendees the famous shoki dance, tug of war game while dancing to the African American slide which is a popular dance in the African American community.
The kids’ corner included face painting, balloon twisting, a toy vending machine, jumping castles and a photo opportunity with a princess and black panther.
With the help of the attendees, Kofi Johnson, a professional drummer from Ghana, did an African drum lesson and Cece Tor, a professional Liberian American choreographer, taught an afro beat dance class.
Some attendees ate at the festival and bought several plates to go. There were food trucks with many cuisines, from African to Southern dishes.
“l just came for the food, it wouldn’t be a black people link up without the seasoned food,” Donald Ndlovu, one of the attendees, said.
50+ vendors, black businesses and organizations were in attendance. This gave them a chance to showcase their products and services.
“l am glad that l was able to be a part of this amazing initiative, l have made so many connections,” one of the booth owners said.