AIH to host first African Festival of the Arts Awards

Herald Intern

Social influencer Luvvie Ajay, medical entrepreneur Dr. Tunji Alausa, nouveau disco rappper Ric Wilson and several others will receive honors for their work during the Africa International House USA, Inc. (AIH) inaugural African Festival of the Arts (AFA) Awards later this month.

AIH, which has hosted the African Festival of the Arts in Washington Park for the past 29 years, created the awards ceremony that will open with a reception at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 11 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., to celebrate achievements across the African Diaspora. The awards ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The awardees include:

Social Entrepreneur Award- Luvvie Ajayi, award-winning author, speaker and digital strategist. She is being recognized for her service as a catalyst for positive social change on a national stage.

Advocate Award- Sally Nuahma Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University and Women and Public Policy fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. The award recognizes an individual who has shown tenacity in advocating on behalf of marginalized individuals and groups.

Business Leader Award- Lisa Maria Pope, vice president and senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. This award is in recognition of a business leader who has demonstrated a solid commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Medical Entrepreneur(s)- Dr. Tunji Alausa, a board-certified nephrologist and founding partner of Kidney Care Center and Dr. Jeff Sterling, president and CEO of Sterling Initiatives (SI), an international healthcare consulting and implementation firm, will receive the award that recognizes those who not only practice medicine, but develop robust initiatives that educate the community and save lives.

The AFA’s Rising Star Under 30 Award is given to someone who has global impact and has shown tremendous growth compared to others in their age range, according to the organization. This year that distinction will go to Ric Wilson, Chicago’s nouveau disco rap superstar, Geneva-visiting activist and self-described community goofball.

International businesswoman and entertainment industry impresario Sheila Okonji-Ashinze, of the syndicated radio program AfroZons, will receive the Trail Blazer Award, which is given to an extraordinary individual who is ahead of their time, seen as a visionary and works to bring people together.

Executive Producer Lotten Yeaney and Nigerian Nollywood actor Kenneth Okoli will co-host the event. There will be a dance performance by Chicago Contemporary Dance Theater, a runway show showcasing the progression of African fashion and a musical performance by Togolese artist Fredo Dadson throughout the evening. Tickets for the AFA Awards gala can be purchased online at

This year’s African Festival of the Arts will be held during Labor Day weekend, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 in Washington Park, 5100 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Headline performers include Shaggy, Twista and Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80 Band.

The Festival grounds will feature drumming, artifacts, music and children’s programming. Tickets for the music performances are included in the price of festival admission and may be purchased now at