Multicultural festival comes to the Gila Valley

Contributed Photo: From left, Arizona Humanities guest speakers Royce Manuel, Debbie Nez-Manuel and Akua Duku Anokye will be featured at the Gila Valley's inaugural Multicultural Festival on Saturday.

Contributed Article

SAFFORD – At the heart of any great community lies the openness to cultural diversity and appreciation for our neighbors’ long-held traditions, art, food and customs. Learning about others’ history and identity and sharing our own not only helps to establish the foundation of a strong public, but also gives bloom to lifelong friendships and alliances.

In this spirit, the city of Safford will be hosting the Gila Valley’s inaugural Multicultural Festival on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m – 3 p.m. at the City Hall Annex Lawn (808 South 8th Avenue). This free festival will highlight the diversity of the Gila Valley’s community through various booths exploring different cultures’ histories, art, crafts and food,  and will feature native Spanish and Hungarian dancing by local performers, traditional Navajo, Japanese, Spanish and French songs, martial arts demonstrations, activities and games for children and more.

Two presentations featuring guest speakers from Arizona Humanities will headline the festival.

The first presentation,”Himdak doo IIna: A Way of Life. How Societies Shape Culture”, will explore connections between the physical, social, mental and spiritual identity of Native Americans as a way of life. Tribes in Arizona often express their balance between patriarchal and matriarchal societies through symbolism. Illustrating this symbolism with the Man in the Maze and Navajo basket designs will be Arizona Humanities speakers Royce Manuel (Auk-Mierl Aw-Thum) and Debbie Nez-Manuel (Diné). Royce and Debbie’s presentation will run from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The second presentation, “A Story, A Story: African and African-American Oral Tradition and Storytelling”, will focus on the transfer of oral traditions from African to African-American cultures. When the African slaves were brought to the Caribbean and North and South America, they brought with them a lasting oral literature and performance style. Such traditions and style can be heard in trickster stories, but is also observed in the narration of myths, folk tales, sermons, jokes, proverbs, folk sayings, signifying, capping, testifying, toasting, on street corners, in barbershops, in beauty shops, the blues, rapping and hip-hop. In demonstration of the connections between African and African-American oral traditions, a variety of Ananse tales, African-American proverbs and other verbal arts will be presented by Arizona Humanities speaker Akua Duku Anokye. Anokye’s presentation will run from 1 – 2 p.m.

The city of Safford invites everyone in the community to join in the festivities, share in the learning and appreciation of various cultures and have fun.