Celebrating the 'spirit of Africanism'

September 23, 1994|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Sun Staff Writer

Dr. Mankekolo Mahlangu-Ngcobo knows the power people can wield when they are united for a common cause. The South African native, a longtime activist for the African National Congress, saw apartheid topple earlier this year under the will of the people.

Now this same strong "spirit of Africanism" will be celebrated in Annapolis this weekend at the fifth annual Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival, says Dr. Mahlangu-Ngcobo, who fled South Africa in 1980 and now lives in Baltimore.

"It is a way in which you can be uplifted spiritually and to celebrate African, African-American and Caribbean culture," says Dr. Mahlangu-Ngcobo, who is working with the festival. "It is a time of year when we can all come together as a community."

The festival is named in honor of the late author Alex Haley's ancestor, Kunta Kinte. The author recounted the story of Kunta Kinte in his book "Roots," which was made into one of the top-rated television miniseries of all time.

The festival will be held on the grounds of St. John's College in Annapolis, the city to which Kunta Kinte was brought, along with about 100 other slaves, in bondage in 1767.

It is the focus on African culture that makes this festival unique, says T. E. Arthur, chairman of Kunta Kinte Celebrations Inc. "Our goal is to expose and teach about African heritage and history," he says.

A portion of the proceeds from the festival will be used to establish a scholarship fund, he says.

And, he adds, people should have a lot of fun while they are learning. The festival grounds will be decorated to replicate an African village. There will be African, African-American and Caribbean music as well as artists and vendors on hand.

"It is an excellent opportunity for people of all ethnic groups to learn about African culture," Mr. Arthur says.

ETHNIC CULTURE

What: Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival

When: Tomorrow, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: St. John's College in Annapolis

Admission: $5; seniors 55 and over: $3; children 4-12, $3; children under age 3, free

Call: (410) 841-6504

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