African Art Village returns after 21 COVID cancellation

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) – Saturday marked opening day and a long-awaited reunion for a community that brings African cultures to Tucson.

The African Art Village has returned to the Menlo Park area of ​​the city, where it will run until February 13. It offers food, clothing, artwork, gifts and more.

The village never opened last winter due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

“I didn’t want to take any chances and I didn’t want to bring all my vendors in, and I didn’t know what to expect,” said co-founder Charlotte Mack, who brought those vendors together in Tucson. for more than two decades.

The event has grown over the years with now around 60 vendors attending. Most are from West Africa, although they represent several different countries.

“It’s education, it’s to see how other people live in other countries,” Mack said. “I learned so much from everyone here. And I make sure to learn something about everyone’s culture, everyone’s village and everyone’s family.

Akua Fenn is originally from Ghana and now lives in the Phoenix area. She designs and sells handmade bags in Madagascar.

The African Art Village is his biggest show of the year. She says the other vendors feel like family.

“I miss everyone here. Even if you don’t know their name, we’re all from the same group. And it’s like all the siblings. And you miss that,” she said of the time spent last year.

Akeem Ayanniyi, a ninth generation Nigerian drum maker, agrees.

“The other vendors we haven’t seen in a long time, so it’s like ‘The Village’. You get to see your customer, supplier, people, your friend. Everyone comes for the show,” he said. -he declares.

Mack is grateful for a surge of online interest from previous visitors planning a return trip now that the Village is returning this year, including some from as far away as Florida.

She says the items for sale are new every year, and that’s part of what makes the Village special.

“It’s unique, it’s unique. And you don’t see anything they have here, you don’t see it anywhere else,” Mack said. “And you never know what to expect…like Christmas. You know, you’re just surprised at what’s going to be new.

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