The Ghana Fest held annually on the Southside of Chicago in Washington Park has blossomed into a cultural landmark since its inception in 1987. Patrons come out to enjoy a celebration of Ghanaian culture, food, dress, arts and crafts. Till date its stands as the biggest Ghanaian cultural exposition in North America. This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the festival, for a third year in a row. Though the grounds were soaked and muddy from rains from the previous night, it did not stop patrons from coming out and enjoying the afternoon.
The fest is always a great opportunity to experience all things Ghanaian and caters to a large audience in what it has to offer. The wares seem to vary every year and items on display are increasing in uniqueness as the fest receives an even more diverse crowd every year.
I found this particular piece extremely interesting and was hugely amused that the bowl at the top was holding shea butter.
Beyond the arts and crafts the fest also highlighted the various ethnic groups in Ghana, represented by associations that are active and present in the US.
I had the opportunity at the fest to meet and speak with a real Akan chief! He was in his kente and adorned in fine gold. He explained that Asante is situated in the middle forest belt of Ghana close to Kumasi. They form part of an ethnic group called Akan, other communities in this group are: the Fantes, the Bonos, the Akwamus, the Akyems, the Kwahus, the Sefwis, the Wassas, the Adanse, the Assins and the Akwapims.
The fest showcased varying fashions that were modern in style but still representative of Ghanaian culture. Some were a bit more creative than others.
Ghana not only has a beautiful culture, dress and arts and crafts but also beautiful women. Present at the fest was 22year old Agnes Ntow, Miss Ghana USA and Miss Africa USA 2010 Finalist. Ntow is a Chicago native and paraded the fest in her sash and beautiful modern traditional outfit.
Ghana Fest is only but a peak through a keyhole of a nation filled with strong cultural diversity, beautiful and celebrated forms of visual and performance arts, a rising and unique fashion industry and its biggest asset; its people. The ability to sustain and grow the fest shows the sheer determination of the organizers and the pride that exists within the people of Ghana that continue to support the event. All round I enjoyed the day spent in this mini-cultural immersion and look forward to more fests to come.
Congratulations again to the people of Ghana- A rising Black Star.
“We face neither East nor West ; we face Forward” –Kwame Nkrumah