Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fourth Annual Pittsburgh African Diversity Festival and Variety Night Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 1 in East Liberty

The Union of African Communities in Pittsburgh & Allegheny County (UAC) presents the 4th Annual Pittsburgh African Diversity Festival to be held in East Liberty on Saturday, September 1, 2012.

The festival will feature music, dance, food, fabrics & clothing, jewelry, arts & crafts and other cultural offerings from more than 40 international communities represented in the Pittsburgh region.

Festivities will begin at noon with a Parade of Nations starting at the corner of Penn Avenue and Highland Avenue, continue with an indoor/outdoor Cultural Celebration at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, located at 116 S. Highland Ave., and culminate with a Diversity Night celebration starting at 10 p.m.

The Pittsburgh African Diversity Festival is a community-driven initiative that started in 2009 as an annual event to create opportunities for new immigrant communities living in Pittsburgh and its environs to share their cultures and traditions and to interact with the larger Pittsburgh community.

“This event brings everyone together, helping to reduce ethnic tensions, foster unity and tolerance, and promote Pittsburgh’s diversity,” said Benedict Killang, President of the UAC.

The UAC is an umbrella Organization for all African Communities in South-western Pennsylvania. Our activities are exclusively not-for-profit making. The union is constituted by leadership/representatives from 40 plus African Countries/communities (Immigrants, Refugees, Students, and Internationals) represented and living in this region.

Its mission is to foster unity, empowerment, linkages and improve the quality of life of Africans in South-western Pennsylvania, through acting upon the needs, concerns, challenges, and opportunities.

Its Vision is to have well-informed, empowered and united African Communities in South-western Pennsylvania, the entire United States and the African continent. Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED) helped the African community with technical assistance in 2008 to establish the UAC, and to date CEED continues to serve as a fiduciary organization to the UAC, providing the UAC with free administrative and financial assistance.

Pittsburgh has a long history of being a city of immigrants. Most early arrivals came from Europe, while large numbers of immigrants in the last few decades have come from Africa and Asia. Newcomers want to feel welcomed in their new communities, while Pittsburghers are curious to see what others from faraway places bring to enrich the region.

According to Rufus Idris, Secretary General of the UAC and Executive Director of CEED, “UAC’s strategy is to take its unique diversity festival to all Pittsburgh neighborhoods, one-neighborhood-at-a-time; introducing them to the beautiful diverse cultures and traditions that exist in the region.”

The 2009 festival was at the Union Project in the Highland Park Neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the 2010 celebration was at Schenley Park in Oakland, and the 2011 festival was at the Ujamaa Collective Marketplace / the Kauffman Auditorium in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. The 2012 festival is planned to be held in East Liberty, a neighborhood well known as a commercial center and business district for immigrants and refugees.

The objectives of the festival are to: (1) Showcase 40 plus diverse countries (immigrant/refugee communities) in Pittsburgh & its environs, (2) Display the rich cultures through food/ethnic dishes, attire/costumes, music/drum and dance representing the various regions of the continent (North, East, South, West and Central Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, India etc.). (3) Create an atmosphere for networking, cultural exchanges and Bridging the Gap(s) between African Immigrants and the Southwestern PA populations, (4) Share the important and integral roles that immigrants, refugees and internationals are playing in the development of the Pittsburgh region, (5) Solicit collective effort and collaborative support to proffer solutions to existing needs in the refugee/immigrant communities based on the increasing numbers and need assessment.

Planned activities for the festival include:

Noon – 1pm: Parade of Nations (East Liberty / Corner of Penn & Highland Ave.)

1pm – 7pm: Cultural Celebration @ indoor and outdoor premises of East Liberty Presbyterian Church (ELPC). Featuring internationa.l performances, dance, songs and drumming, sampling of authentic International food, African Art and Crafts, Fabrics/Clothing, Jewelry, Books etc.).

10pm – 2am: Diversity Night

A Cup of Nations soccer tournament was held at Schenley Park as part of activities leading to the festival. Soccer teams represented South Sudan, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Bhutan/Nepal, and Russia. This year’s winner was Liberia, 2010 winner and defending champion South Sudan came second, and the third place goes to the Bhutan/Nepal team. Trophy and medals will be presented to winners at the festival in east Liberty.

The Festival is supported in part by a grant from Vibrant Pittsburgh.

“Vibrant Pittsburgh is pleased to support the Union of African Communities and its 4th Annual Pittsburgh African Diversity Festival through our Mini-Grant Initiative. Bringing together the region’s African community and showcasing the rich contributions of our region’s international, immigrant and New American residents helps to position the Pittsburgh Region as a welcoming destination for others seeking opportunity and a place to call home,” said Melanie Harrington, CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh.

The Festival is also made possible in part by donations from Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED), UPMC Center for Inclusion, East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI), Chester Engineers, Community College of Allegheny County, and South Hills Interfaith Ministries (SHIM) among others. 

For more information about the UAC, go to:

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