African World Peace Festival promotes peace, unity

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By Amanda Dolasinski Staff writer Updated Jul 16, 2016

Anthony Harris and his daughter Nia McCoy danced along to the Caribbean rhythm that echoed down Person Street on Saturday.

Harris doted on his eight-year-old daughter, hoping she would learn more about her culture, and the others represented at the African World Peace Festival downtown.

“I just want her to be receptive to every culture and take time to learn about ourselves,” said Harris, who learned his family was Kenyan. “I want her to be around it. Being born in America, we don’t know about our African culture.”

The African World Peace Festival returned to downtown Person Street on Saturday. Hundreds of people packed the street to listen to music, watch cultural performances and enjoy ethnic cuisine.

Tetteh Effon, owner of A Taste of West Africa restaurant, organized the festival with his wife, Isabella, and said he hoped it would promote peace and unity.

“We want our communities to be safe and livable for everybody,” he said. “We want to enjoy the message of peace.”

Effon, a veteran of the 18th Airborne Corps, came to the United States from Ghana in the ’90s, he said. The military brought him to Fayetteville, where he believed the festival could make an impact.

The inaugural African World Peace Festival was held last summer in front of the couple’s restaurant.

The festival kicked off with free health screenings and a 5k run/walk. The remainder of the afternoon featured local and regional musicians, cultural dancers, DJs and story telling.

It’s also 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.

The festival attracted Felecia Jackson, her son and three godchildren.

She said she was looking forward to the African dance performances, but appreciated the larger message of peace.

“This unity is definitely needed,” she said, flanked by the children. “There’s all these different cultures. I want to teach the kids about unity and instill in them a togetherness.”

Staff writer Amanda Dolasinski can be reached at dolasinskia@fayobserver.com or 486-3528.

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