African cultural festival to highlight and celebrate the diversity of the African diaspora

It’s been more than a decade since Milwaukee residents gathered en masse to celebrate African culture and heritage.

But thanks to the work of three local women, the African Cultural Festival is set to take place on July 6. And it is hoped that it will mark the rebirth of many future festivals and initiatives that celebrate and support the local African community.

“We are on a mission to fill the void in Milwaukee Festival programming by providing audiences with a traditional African cultural celebration,” says Yollande Tchouapi, who works alongside African community members Cordelia Ekwueme and Reine M. Asana to provide logistics and leadership to make the African Cultural Festival a success.

Yollande Tchouapi, Cordelia Ekwueme and Reine M. Asana

The African Cultural Festival is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 6 from noon to 7 p.m. at Brown Deer Park, 7835 N. Green Bay Rd. (picnic areas 2 and 3).

The event is free and open to the public and will include representatives from approximately 15 African countries.

The festivities will begin on the main stage with the opening speech and a “Parade of Nations” featuring each African nation dressed in all their traditional regalia.

From there, guests will experience traditional African dance from groups such as the Nefertari African Dance Company and the Umu-Ada Dance Troupe from Nigeria; a fashion show that highlights contemporary and traditional African fashion; African gospel music; a music showcase with traditional African instruments; a talent show and closing performance by traditional Nigerian Odenigbo masquerade dancers.

Odenigbo Masquerade Dancers
Odenigbo Masquerade Dancers

Guests can also take part in a Taste of Africa, a tasting tent featuring performances of a range of African cuisines; a space presenting works of art and videos of various traditional African ceremonies (wedding, etc.); and a children’s activity zone managed by Fit 4 Life.

African food, art, crafts, fashion fabrics and jewelry will also be available for purchase from festival vendors.

“It’s our first year, but we want this to turn into an experience where people can truly immerse themselves in the culture,” Reine says.

Tchouapi nods. “I think of my daughter Naima and her friends and how a festival like this brings their cultures to life and gives them a way to celebrate it. »


The festival is – in many ways – the culmination of many small festivals and gatherings that have taken place within the African community here in Milwaukee over the years. But this time, it’s a collective effort.

The seeds were sown during the COVID-19 pandemic when, after years of struggling to come together, members of the African community united and created African Stakeholders Inc., an organization formalized in 2023.

Ekwueme wrote a grant for the organization that helped mobilize diverse African communities. However, when the grant ended, the question was “Where do we go from here?” »

The answer? The African Cultural Festival, a community celebration that gives a visible presence to the organization’s goals and initiatives.

“Our goals are to create a community voice for African immigrants and refugees,” notes Ekwueme. “We want to promote African heritage, educate the public and create opportunities in the community to enable individuals to achieve financial independence and provide leadership training to our African youth.”

“As a people, we tend to stay on the periphery,” she adds. “But our story needs to be told in a way that represents us. And we need our culture to be integrated into the broader community.

Queen agrees. “We love this work,” she says. “But it’s a real commitment. We have children who were born here and they need to see what their parents did, understand where they came from, and then be able to pass that on to their children.

The festival, says Tchouapi, goes well beyond simple sharing. This is an active conversation between the African community and Milwaukee as a whole.

“It’s an exchange with the community through fashion, music and art,” explains Tchouapi. “And the goal is to promote understanding and appreciation of the richness and diversity that exists in Africa and among the immigrants who have called Milwaukee home.”

Asana, Ekwueme and Tchouapi and African Stakeholders Inc are seeking sponsorship that will not only help fund the African Cultural Festival, but also provide funds to restart programs for African immigrants and refugees.

Among the initiatives they hope to fund are scholarships that help refugee families access English language and science programs. The current goal is to raise at least $50,000, which would fund 50 $1,000 scholarships.

Financial commitments have been secured from the Brewers’ Foundation and Johnson Controls; but additional support is needed to sustain the work in progress. Parties interested in sponsorships can inquire by email at or by telephone at (414) 522-7682.

Follow the African Cultural Festival on Facebook and Instagram for more details and updates ahead of the festival.

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