A Festival of African Arts and Culture in Mount Vernon

Wakanda Celebration (photo courtesy of Luangisa Gallery)

When Rose Luangisa, founder of the Luangisa African Gallery, decided to organize a festival of African art and culture in Mount Vernon, she wanted to choose a name for it that would represent the past and future of Africa. 

“We honor the African ancestors and the gifts of our Motherland while acknowledging the African futurism that is emerging in our current endeavors,” she explains.

As such, the celebration was named after Wakanda, the fictional African country from the movie Black Panther. In the film, Wakanda is a prosperous and successful nation; an afro-futurist utopia with a glut of natural resources and advanced military technology; a vision of how African culture and civilization could have developed, if absent from European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade. 

Now in its fourth year, the Wakanda4Ever celebration will return after being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The festival, which will take place on September 4, will feature performances from traditional African drummers and storytellers, food vendors, handmade goods made by African artisans and a fashion show.  Staying true to its namesake, there will also be an appearance by characters from the Black Panther film, and a tribute to its star, the late Chadwick Boseman.

Luangisa, a native of Bukoba, Tanzania who has called Mount Vernon her home for nearly three decades, says that the outdoor festival “will still have the energy, vibrancy and culture of the Wakanda Celebration that we have had in the past.”

She adds that “this year will also be a celebration of connection, community and coming together since COVID.” With that, like many events in the age of COVID, social distancing, masks, limited entry and temperature checks will be implemented to ensure the safety of guests. 

“Our aim is to showcase the best and the brightest talents of the African diaspora in unity and oneness,” says Luangisa.

“We are so excited to be able to offer this event to the community this year,” adds Luangisa. “It is so important to us to be able to celebrate together, given the past year, and to have a place to go that’s safe, free for all, and fun.”

A version of this article first appeared in the September issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.​​

About ArtsWestchester

For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest private not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to create an equitable, inclusive, vibrant and sustainable Westchester County in which the arts are integral to and integrated into every facet of life. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue. artsw.org