The Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival has released its plans for the 33rd Africa in April Festival which will start on April 17th.
David L. Acey Sr., the executive director of Africa in April, responded by addressing all of the activities that will take place at the festival.
“Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival, Inc. is preparing for the 2019 Festival April 17-21 at internationally renowned Beale Street / Robert Church Park,” Acey said in a press release. “This year marks our 33rd anniversary and we expect record attendance. This anniversary celebration will recognize the bicentennial of Memphis and Shelby County from 1819 to 2019, using various mediums with different themes in everyday life, educational excellence, arts and crafts, Afro-centricity, economics, genealogy, musicology, entrepreneurship, international relations, cuisine, drug awareness, history, tourism, culture and the arts.
Acey and his wife created the festival 33 years ago to educate people about African culture in a number of ways. Acey continues the tradition of involving the community by raising awareness.
“At first my wife and I were thinking of a way to get black people back in touch with their culture,” Acey said. “We just thought about it and my wife said, ‘Why don’t we start a festival in April? Blacks like to dance. We make art. We do a lot of artistic things, and maybe we can start something to show it all. “
During a community meeting, some members spoke about the importance of teaching African culture. Acey’s wife pitched the idea of having a festival to educate people through music, food and art and named it Africa in April.
As the planning continued, Acey and his team found a time of year, but they needed a place to start an event when they had no financial backing at the time. .
“We were in small beginnings, which meant we didn’t have the money and weren’t yet a real organization,” Acey said. “In 1986, six of us walked down Main Street in our African clothes and started drumming, saying, ‘This is Africa in April, cultural awareness festival.’ The good thing is that a lot of people think it takes a lot of money to do something.
Originally, the festival was planned without financial support for it to start. Acey needed to send a message to people as he walked with his colleagues in downtown Memphis wearing clothes depicting his ancestors. He also said he noticed the reactions of people of different ethnicities and skin colors in response to the idea of hosting an event for his people.
“We were actually building a house for our people, and they didn’t know it,” Acey said. “The ones who got us the most trouble on Main Street were the black people saying, ‘Nobody wants to go back to Africa’ and ‘What are you trying to do? But they didn’t understand that we were building them a house. Eventually the whites would come and the Jews too, thinking it was a good idea to do something for your people. “
Once we heard about a new festival in Memphis, things started to move in a more positive direction. Acey worked with his team to get more people involved and received sponsorships to help turn the idea into reality.
“We’ve gone from having no money and no real organization to being an organization where we start building every year,” Acey said. “We have more vendors, we have more people coming to Memphis, and we’ve kept the African theme. Each year we will honor an African country and celebrate it through the wonders of art.
The festival honors the Republic of Nigeria this year. The Africa in April Cultural Awareness organization is looking for volunteers to participate in this event. For more information visit africanapril.org.