African Heritage Festival on Saturday showcases culture of the continent

Participants in the 2023 African Heritage Festival in Orem dance during the festivities. This year's installment occurs Saturday.

Participants in the 2023 African Heritage Festival in Orem dance during the festivities. This year's installment occurs Saturday. (Ngoma y'Africa Cultural Center via YouTube)


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OREM — Yvonne Nsabimana says, in Africa, most any occurrence can be cause for a party of some sort.

"There's no event that doesn't happen without a celebration," she said.

With that in mind and in a bid to showcase the varied cultures of Africa represented in Utah, the organization she leads, the Ngoma y'Africa Cultural Center, is hosting the African Heritage Festival on Saturday. Now in its fourth year, the free event goes from 2-8 p.m. and will be held at University Place in Orem.

The event will feature music, dancing and other performances from a range of participants representing the varied nations of sub-Saharan Africa and the people from the area who now call Utah home. There will also be a fashion show and a "Parade of Nations." "We focus on the culture and the diaspora," Nsabimana said.

The idea for the festival emerged after realizing Utah lacked cultural activities focused on Africa and Africans now living in the state. Since its first incarnation, the festival has grown and grown, Nsabimana said.

It aims to "highlight the diversity, traditions and values of the African continent through storytelling, music, dance, poetry, art and crafts," reads the Ngoma y'Africa Cultural Center website.

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for KSL.com. He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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