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City Hall Ceremony opens three-day African cultural and sports festival

Newark, NJ - July 31, 2009 - Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement Margarita Muñiz, members of the Newark African Commission, representatives from African nations, African soccer teams, and other Newark dignitaries launched the City of Newark’s African Diaspora Celebration with a kick-off ceremony in the City Hall Rotunda last night.

The ceremony opened a three-day festival of sports, family activities, musical performances and celebrations of African culture, which will be held at Military Park with concerts and family activities. Military Park will host “Family Day” today, and an all-day festival on Sunday, August 2. Day two of the three-day event will feature an international soccer tournament at Nat Turner Park, on Saturday, August 1. The park is located at 251-289 18th Avenue (between Boyd Street and Muhammad Ali Avenue). A comprehensive schedule of the festival’s events is attached.

“This weekend we are celebrating and acknowledging the great achievements, heritage, and power of African culture in the City of Newark,” Mayor Booker said in a statement. “I commend the members of the Newark African Commission for organizing this event and encourage everyone to join us as we kick off our City’s First Annual African Diaspora Festival.”

“The African Diaspora retells the story of how Africans have been able to maintain their culture, language and folklore throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.  The richness of this event lies in the appreciation of African influence throughout the world.  Here in Newark we honor and celebrate that richness and acknowledge its significance in our collective lives,” said Deputy Mayor Muñiz.

The ceremony included remarks by Ghanaian Government Chief Whip Enoch Teye Mensah, African music, and the introduction a soccer team representing the Republic of Ghana, which will compete in Saturday’s soccer tournament.

“Africa is referred to as the ‘cradle of civilization’ and the birthplace of humanity. The purpose of Mayor Booker’s African Commission of Newark is to promote the greatness of the African continent and enlighten the Diaspora here within Newark about all the good Africa has to offer, rather than the negative image it so often receives from the media. We are here to bridge the gap between African-Americans, Africans and people of African descent. To correct this growing disconnect, we are empowering our community to reach out to one another and celebrate their common heritage,” said Dosso Kassimou, President of the Mayor’s Newark African Commission.

On Sunday, the Newark African Commission will honor African-American community members for their leadership and service: Jacinta Ukah-Ogbonna, Director of Patient Care Practices in the Family Health Services Division of Nursing at University Hospital; Amina Diabagate, an entrepreneur; Joy Adsumola Adenubi Olateru Olagbegi, founder of the Joy School of Hair Design and a vocational educator; Alex Dennis, a barber and business leader; Sergent Sen Sei Haress Goodson, a youth martial arts instructor; and Imam Souleimane Konate from the Masjid AWSA Mosque. In addition, the Commission will honor Mr. Teye Mensah and U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne for their political leadership both at home and abroad.

“The festival brings everybody of African descent together, celebrating a common culture. It’s very exciting for us because Newark used to be left out of festivals like these, but now through the Mayor’s support, we’re bringing them back. We want to thank Mayor Booker for all he has done to make this three-day festival a reality,” said Marcy Phillips, Vice President of the commission.


Contact:        Press Information Office: (973) 733-8004 
                E-mail: Pressoffice@ci.newark.nj.us


Friday, July 31, 2009: Family Day, Noon - 8:30 p.m.

Location: Military Park, Broad Street and Raymond Boulevard

Information: Bring the entire family along to Downtown Newark’s Military Park for a day filled with fun activities, for adults and especially children. Highlights of the day will include original talent competitions for adults and children. Food and drinks will be available.

Saturday, August 1, 2009: Diaspora Soccer Tournament, 10 a.m. - 5p.m.

Location: Nat Turner Park, 251-289 18th Avenue (between Boyd Street and Muhammad Ali Avenue)

Information: 20 adult soccer teams from across the world, including Brazil, Liberia, Haiti, Ghana, and New Jersey, will compete in the “Diaspora Soccer Tournament.” The seven-hour tournament is the first of its kind.

Sunday, August 2, 2009: All Day Cultural Festival, Noon - 10p.m.

Location: Military Park, Broad Street and Raymond Boulevard

Information: Live cultural plays and performances from across the African continent, The Caribbean, and South America, will entertain Newark residents throughout Sunday afternoon and evening. Located in downtown Newark between Broad Street and Park Place, and close to public transportation, the festival is easily accessible to residents from all over the region.

About the City of Newark, New Jersey 
Newark, commonly referred to as Brick City, is the third oldest city in the United States and the largest in New Jersey, with a population of over 280,000 people. Newark sits on one of the nation’s largest transportation super-structures including an international airport, major rail connections, major highway intersections and the busiest seaport on the east coast.

With a new Administration as of July 2006, Newark continues to see signs of a strong revival.  In population, it is one of the fastest growing cities in the northeast. Its 6 major colleges and universities are further expanding their presence. The production of affordable housing has doubled, businesses are returning and crime is going down. There is still much work to be done but Newark is on its way to achieving its mission:  to set a national standard for urban transformation.

For more information on the City of Newark, please visit our website at www.ci.newark.nj.us

Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cityofnewarknj 

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