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Nkechi Ajanaku, longtime director of the organization that puts on the annual Kuumba Festival, died June 1 at age 60.
Wochit

For 28 years, Nkechi Ajanaku was a powerful presence at the Kuumba Festival.

Her June 1 death won’t change that, said her son, Tor Ajanaku.

This year’s festival, which runs Friday-Sunday, will be in memory of his mother, Ajanaku said – and there’s no doubt her spirit will loom large.

The festival will close Sunday night with a tribute concert by jazz artist Kelly Jolly, 8-10 p.m. in Morningside Park. But Tor Ajanaku said his mother’s hand will be evident throughout the festival, presented – as always – by African American Appalachian Arts, which she founded.

“Her long-term vision for the Kuumba festival was for people in the community to experience African and other international arts,” Ajanaku said. “You don’t see that in this region a lot.”

An African marketplace that opens daily at noon includes traditional crafts, clothing and foods.

And Ajanaku is especially looking forward to the free African dance workshops that will be offered 1-2:30 p.m. Friday at Market Square, and Saturday and Sunday at Morningside Park. People can come to any or all of the workshops, he said.

More: Schedule of events for Kuumba Festival 2017

“Kuumba” is Swahili for “creativity,” and this year’s theme is “uplifting the power of creativity,” a theme his mother was excited about, Ajanaku said. All three days of the festival will feature local talent…