LEWISTON — The annual African Immigrants Association festival celebrating African diversity will be held from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 3, at Courthouse Plaza on Lisbon Street.

This is the seventh year of the festival, which features an African marketplace, dance demonstrations and free live music in the downtown.

The African Immigrants Association organized the first Africana Festival in 2004, timed to celebrate Somali and American independence days in early July. Somalia claimed independence from Italy and the United Kingdom on July 1, 1960, and the United States celebrates its independence from the British crown annually on July 4.

The first multi-cultural African festival was held at the Multi-Purpose Center and, although this year’s event will be held outdoors at the downtown plaza, the original mission to share African food, dance and music remains. This year, according to organizers, one of the principal purposes of the festival is to recognize and celebrate the African influence on the business, social and cultural life of Lewiston.

From noon to 10 p.m., the association will create an African marketplace, typically seen in that country, with vendors selling food, arts, clothing and other ethnic products. The marketplace will also feature a fashion show displaying the unique dress of various ethnic regions in Africa.

From 4 to 10 p.m., the festival will feature African dance and music exhibitions, including demonstrations of Somali, Sudanese, Rwandese and Congolese dance from 4 to 7 p.m. Individual performance groups will ask for audience participation as they demonstrate their native dance.

The featured artist performing between 7 and 10 p.m. will be Rumbaafrica, Boston’s premiere African band. Rumbaafrica incorporates the vocal harmonies and lilting dance rhythms of classic Congolese rumba — an adaptation of Cuban son — as well as the nonstop beat of modern Soukous. Guitar theatrics, percussion breakdowns and traditional dancing are all part of Rumbaafrica’s performance.

The African Immigrants Association is a nonprofit organization formed in 2003 to promote support and understanding of the African immigrant community and its various cultures, and to promote better racial relations. Its office is located at 276 Lisbon St. in Lewiston.


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