On Saturday, August 10, the Pan-African Festival (PAF) returns for a third year to celebrate the African Diaspora in the Pacific Northwest. Presented by the nonprofit Pan African Festival of Oregon, the free event features music, entertainment, health screenings, a fashion show and more.
With more than 28 African countries represented in Multnomah County, Africans make up one of the largest immigrant communities in the area following Latino, Asian and Slavic immigrants, according to a report by Coalition of Communities of Color & Portland State University. The PAF is designed to celebrate the diverse cultures of the African continent while also empowering and uniting the African community in the region.
“The Pan-African Festival is an opportunity to build solidarity among people of African descent, to share the riches of African culture with other Oregonians, and to allow Africans in the diaspora to connect with their motherland and bear witness to their rich cultural heritage,” Djimet Dogo, director of IRCO Africa House told The Skanner.
Live music and dance are cornerstones of the PAF. Previous festivals have showcased a broad range of eclectic genres such as hip-hop, Afro-fusion, salsa, African folk, Afro-Cuban, jazz, soul and more. This year, live musical entertainment will include artists Yugen, Amenta Abioto and Jamaican music curator DJ Myrie among others. Attendees can also look forward to dance performances from Ghana-born artist Face King and a fashion show curated by native Portlander Shalonda Menefee.
The PAF also serves as a platform to highlight local food vendors, craft designers and promote Black entrepreneurs. Last year, the market promoted 15 Black-owned businesses. In partnership with Business Oregon, the area is designed to give local Black-owned businesses a dedicated space to present their products and inform attendees about their services.
Fostering health equity is also a principal component of the PAF. Booths dedicated to health screenings and wellness information will also be available for the community. A certified group exercise instructor and nutrition coach will lead a series of free Zumba classes.
“Health is all around us — at the doctor’s office, at home, at the dinner table, grocery store, schools, parks, and beyond,” Michael Anderson-Nathe, Health Share of Oregon's chief equity and engagement officer, told The Skanner. “We recognize that social connection is among the most important predictors of health and wellbeing. That’s why we support the Pan African Festival in their vision to connect individuals and families within and across communities and cultures—building foundations for a healthy community for all.”
The free annual festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 10 from 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Courthouse Square located at 701 SW 6th Ave.