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African culture in the spotlight at inaugural African World Peace Festival Saturday

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At the inaugural African World Peace Festival, organizer Isabella Effon wants guests to learn about culture and tradition and get information that will help them stay healthy.

She also wants them to have fun.

To that end, music, dancers and drummers are scheduled to perform.

“We just want to make this a happy event,” Effon said.

The festival is scheduled to be held Saturday from 2 to 8p.m. on Person Street in downtown Fayetteville. A 5k race starts at 8 a.m., with registration beginning at 6 a.m.

The event is a fundraiser for Loving Hands International, a nonprofit charity that works to strengthen and improve the quality of life for poor and needy people in the U.S. and Ghana, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Effon is a native of Ghana who owns Taste of West Africa restaurant on Person Street. She said she organized the festival as a way to highlight ties between Africa and the United States.

Effon said she wants to put a spotlight not only on people who live in Africa, but people of African descent living in other countries.

“Everybody is part of this World Peace Festival,” Effon said. “That’s the goal, to bring together everybody’s culture and diversity.”

A parade of African nations will kick things off at 2 p.m.

The music will begin shortly after that, with “international vibes” by DJ Afrique at 2:30, a performance by Senegal musician Khalat Africa at 3:15 p.m. and a Michael Jackson tribute by Notani Shah at 4:45. The Soul Crooners will perform at 5:30 p.m., and Bill Curtis and Friends with the Fatback Band are scheduled to play at 6:30p.m.

African-American dance lessons will be held at 3p.m., and an African-American dance troupe will perform at 5 p.m. Rhonda’s Rainbow Family of Dance is scheduled for a 6:30 performance.

Health screenings will be held throughout the day. A children’s area will be featured, and African foods will be available.

The day also will include a tribute to American soldiers of African descent, poetry readings and crafts.

Effon said she hopes the festival becomes a regular event, and offers people of different countries and cultures a means of understanding each other.

“That has always been my dream, to have an African Peace Festival and bring some awareness and culture,” she said. “Let’s all come together and celebrate.”

Staff writer Rodger Mullen can be reached at mullenr@fayobserver.com or 486-3561.

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