The third annual DC Africa Festival
takes place Saturday (September 29) in the U.S. capital. Ngozi Nmezi, the mayor’s Office of African Affairs director, said the city has a strong connection to African heritage and culture.
“That special relationship exists because the second largest concentration of Africans in the nation is right here in the District of Columbia, and the larger D.C. metropolitan area,” she said.
The theme of this year’s festival is Building One City
, and Nmezi said the event will focus on health.
“This year, we have a wellness pavilion where we’re really encouraging all of our attendees to get out on their feet and move. They’ll be able to learn fun African culture centered exercises,” she said.
She added there will be a community-based fashion show that includes audience participation.
“We’ll encourage people to participate and really come on stage and speak about the root of what they’re wearing in terms of country of origin and what inspired them to wear it, and just tell us a little bit about the looks [of] what they’re wearing,” she explained.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are between 14,000 and 16,000 African-born immigrants living in the city’s limits, and more than 150,000 who live in the surrounding metropolitan area making it second to only the New York City area.
But Nmezi cautions those numbers are usually considered a low estimate because African immigrants are not disaggregated (separated) from American-born Africans. She said Ethiopia is the most highly represented country among residents in Washington, followed by native-born Nigerians.
Washington D.C. Mayor’s Office of African Affairs Director, Ngozi Nmez talks to Ricci Shryock