By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
The fourth Annual Bantu Fest, a free community festival celebrating cultures world wide, brought together over 30,000 people from more than 20 countries to Midway Plaisance on July 28 to sample the diversity of food, live music, and art Chicago’s community has to offer.
Designed to celebrate love, peace, unity and diversity among nations, the much awaited summer festival drew in thousands of families, friends, and community members to Midway Plaisance early Saturday morning and well into the evening. Music and poetry from all over the world filled the park as festival goers danced and enjoyed the diverse array of vendors that lined the street, or set up their picnics in the less crowded stretch of parkland.
Silvain Songo, a native of Cameroon, founded the festival to promote diversity among nations, the diaspora, and to connect commerce around the world. This year, the festival had over 30 vendors including food from over 20 different countries.
The festival included food vendors from South Africa, Haiti, and Jamaica, to America, the Caribbean and more. Vegetarian options were also made available throughout the festivities.
If getting a taste of Chicago’s diversity wasn’t enough of a reason to visit the Bantu Fest, the performances were just as amazing and fun to enjoy. The event had over 20 performers, including P.O.E.T Movement, performing poetry and spoken word, and music from Supa Dupa.
“We’re honored to be sharing the stage with so many talents, and to be here celebrating the different cultures with us here today,” said one of the performers from Fiya Fit, a dance group from Studio Fit Chicago than empowers women from different backgrounds and skills to be healthy and strong through dance, yoga, and exercise. “We have dancers from Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica, South Africa and all over the world. Today we celebrate the beauty of the diaspora and come together as a family.”
The group performed several dances on stage, highlighting one of the core motives of the festival: the people and diverse community coming together as one through the unifying work of art. Bantu, the namesake of the festival means “the people,” making it “the people’s fest.”
Throughout the day, the community of visitors from all age groups enjoyed music, poetry, and art from a diverse array of cultural backgrounds. Vendors, such as Neya Concept had head wrap training and colorful exhibitions of African print accessories in wax fabric for women and children.
The 2018 festival ended with special visitor and headline artist Amara La Negra (Diana de los Santos), a Dominican-American hip hop artist known as the breakout star of reality show “Love & Hip Hop: Miami.”
The Afro-Latina singer, excited to be performing asked the audience to “show some love and support” for the beautiful diversity attending the event. The Bantu Fest was Amara La Negra’s first event on stage in Chicago