San Diego Kuumba Fest Begins on February 12

Kuumba Fest is San Diego’s longest running and premier celebration of African-American expression, culture, and heritage.

The three-day festival on February 12-15 will include traditional African art and pageantry, drama, educational workshops, community leadership awards, an African marketplace, a health fair, hip hop showcase, tribute to the famed Apollo Theatre “Live at the Lyceum,” a gospel concert, and powerful guest speakers and artists.

Founded in 1993, Kuumba Fest began as an offshoot of the San Diego Urban Warriors’ gang diversion program. Founder Dajahn Blevins taught arts to at-risk youth as a means of social development, cultural enrichment and self-empowerment. The students presented a sold-out performance at the San Diego Repertory Theatre at the end of the program, and the feedback from the community was so strong, Kuumba Fest was born. Co-produced by the Rep and its African American Council, Kuumba Fest is the county’s longest-running celebration of African-derived culture and commerce.

Kuumba (Swahili for “creativity”) Fest brings together community leaders, local performers, and celebrities for an annual audience that averages 5,000. From gospel to hip-hop and theater to dance, San Diego’s Kuumba Fest present a wide showcase of arts that celebrate Black American culture in all its variety. Kuumba Fest will offer a three-day festival that includes educational workshops, hip-hop dance and speech competitions, performances of plays, Late Night Live (San Diego’s version of Late Night at the Apollo), and as always, a gospel concert finale. An African Market Place featuring arts and crafts for sale by local vendors will also be presented in the lobby of the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza Shopping Center.

Highlights include:

African Market Place: Free live music, edu-tainment with a focus on health and wellness, cultural foods, exotic vendors and cultural resources, arts, books and more.

Black F.A.T (Fashion Art Talent): Our popular showcase featuring outstanding artists of African descent in the areas of dance, fashion, music, live art and spoken word.

Drum Call and Interactive Libation: celebration of the ancestors that were inspired enough to rebel against enslavement and tyranny. Calling on the strength our ancestors possessed to remain inspired enough to get us this far in our struggle for healing and freedom.

Free Education Workshops: These informative workshops will provide a forum to connect the community with experts to provide opportunities and solutions for issues within our communities. Our objective with the educational workshops is to allow a healthy forum to discuss, exchange ideas and propose recommendations to the community. The workshops will be organized as sessions during which we will discuss about several important issues including but not limited to Black History 101; Extemporaneous Speech competition on Getting Inspired about Health; and Healthy, Active & Fit.

The goal of KuumbaFest is to create an urban performing artist community advocating, teaching, demonstrating collective work and responsibility promoting, self-determination and discipline through creative edutainment artistic experiences and exploration. This community represents all of the performing arts and serves as an alternative means of intervention when traditional forms don’t work. It unites engineers for change, and warriors against apathy and parasites on the communities in which we live.

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