Bring your dancing shoes: Free Caribbean and African cultural festival Saturday in South Tucson

2014-02-27T00:00:00Z Bring your dancing shoes: Free Caribbean and African cultural festival Saturday in South TucsonBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 27, 2014 12:00 am  • 

This weekend’s Caribbean and African Cultural Festival at the Garden Kitchen on South Fourth Avenue means to saturate the senses.

Saturday’s free affair, running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include Jamaican chicken curry offerings, Ethiopian plates from Café Desta, and culinary treats from Trinidad and Nigeria.

Dancing and dance instruction will come courtesy of Uzoamaka Nwankpa and her Uzo Method Project.

And Mike “Doc Twang” Olson and the Key Ingredients of African Soul will provide the music.

The Tucson-based band, in town since 2008, has seven members and specializes in different forms of Afropop, with an emphasis on Zimbabwean rhythms.

The group released its latest album, “Crossing Borders, Breaking Boundaries” last month.

“People can expect to dance,” said Olson, a Key Ingredients co-founder. “We are not a rock n’ roll band. We speak our own language.”

The event is being held as part of a series of cultural festivals put on by the Garden Kitchen, a health education program and teaching kitchen established in partnership with the City of South Tucson, Pima County, the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Pima County Cooperative Extension.

Last spring, the Kitchen held Salsa y Salsa, a gathering that featured salsa samplings from restaurants along South Fourth Avenue, as well as salsa music and dance lessons.

In the fall, it organized a Desert Foods Festival, which focused on the indigenous cuisine of Southern Arizona.

Funding for the fests comes from a grant received through the James P. and Shirley J. O’Brien Diversity Endowment.

Dan McDonald, an assistant agent for the Pima County Cooperative Extension and one of the coordinators of the event, said a celebration of like this seemed like a good fit.

“There is a very rich African culture in Tucson,” he said. “In addition to the African American population that lives in the city, there is also a strong immigrant population, refugees who have come to Tucson through various ways.

“This is about learning. We hope people come from all over this weekend to see what we have to offer.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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