African heritage recalled

August 18, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

People attending this weekend's 10th annual African American Cultural & Heritage Festival in Jefferson County could learn about African heritage and even make donations to help Africans.

As the festival wraps up today, a fund-raiser will be held at the Asbury United Methodist Church on W.Va. 480 in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Rev. Ernest Lyles said.

Lyles is asking people to donate books, school supplies and clothing to the poor West African nation of Ghana, which he has visited several times.


To pay for the packaging materials and shipping costs, Lyles said he hopes to raise $3,000 at today's Gospel Jubilee. The 4 p.m. Jubilee will feature six or seven church choirs.

The clothes can be secondhand, but in good condition and clean, Lyles said.

The deadline for donations is Aug. 31.

People who can't make it to today's Jubilee but want to make a donation can:

  • Drop it off at the Star Lodge at the corner of South Lawrence Street and Martin R. Delany Place on Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 2 p.m.

  • Drop it off at the Shepherdstown Youth Center at West High Street and Maiden Lane on Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 2 p.m. or between 6 and 8 p.m.

  • In the Charles Town area, call Barbara Rutherford at 1-304-725-9610 to make arrangements.

  • In the Shepherdstown area, call the youth center at 1-304-876-9397 to make arrangements.

Lyles said he hopes this effort will continue at future festivals for other needy African nations such as Senegal and Gambia.

Festival vendor Edna Downey, 44, of Charles Town, also was trying to help people in Africa. Downey was selling African dolls on Saturday to help a family in Senegal whom she has known for two years after visiting the country.

The dolls look like the women you would see walking around carrying a basket of food or clothes on their heads, Downey said.

John Ubamadu of Reston, Va., was selling African wares made by African youths age 14 to 22 through a youth development program. One item was a wooden sculpture called "Unity and Family" that was sculpted by elders out of one piece of teakwood and sanded by the youngsters. The sculpture shows seven people in a group hug to symbolize a family working and staying together, said Ubamadu, a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria.

It also can be used as a table with a piece of glass on top.

Besides paying for the African youths' tools and supplies, Ubamadu was part of a group that took almost 700 pounds of supplies to the area last month, he said.

The three-day festival was organized by the Jefferson County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

About 2,000 people attended Saturday's parade down Main Street from Ranson to Charles Town, said George Rutherford, local NAACP president.

A youth block party was scheduled Saturday night with a disc jockey and dancing on South Lawrence Street.

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