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