Festival focuses on unity, joy

Photo of Tiffany Herman with event organizer Bryant Shaw. Courtesy: Jared Okonkwo

The meaning of the Swahili word Furaha is the feeling of happiness,”  and joy” is the perfect word to describe the Furaha Festival.

 Sunday’s event celebrated the togetherness and diversity of Black culture. It took place at the vibrant mural space in Railroad Square Art District.

Created by Afro-fusion restaurant Halisi Africa, the festival celebrates the cultural history of Black people from all over the African diaspora.

Halisi Africa, known for its unique cuisine infused with spices and ingredients from Northeastern Africa, started the festival with the intent to bring the community together to display the richness of Black culture.

The program director and event organizer, Bryant Shaw, created the annual event to commemorate Black heritage in a celebratory way, guided by the Kwanzaa principles of Umoja.

Halisi is a for-profit business, however, the intention behind the Furaha Festival is community. We wanted to provide a welcoming space for people who resonated with raising the awareness of Pan-African culture and be an overall positive influence,” he said.

During Bryants introduction speech, he spoke on the importance of not allowing trauma to stifle immersing in positivity and Black joy. He acknowledged the sponsors, volunteers, and vendors who supported Halisi Africa.

The Furaha Festival captures a well-blended combination of cultural pride, lively music, and historical traditions that make it a memorable experience for attendees.

Jared Okonkwo, a student in the sports management master’s program at Florida State University, said the festival was a great moment of communion for Tallahassee.

The Furaha Festival was a cheerful expression of unity and dynamic culture within the Black community. This was an exciting event to attend during Black History Month,” he said.

From talented artists and performers to local farmers, the Furaha Festival presented the opportunity to learn about wellness, sustainability, and the importance of unity during Black History Month.

Interactive arts and crafts encouraged attendees to get festive with their peers and create memorabilia, a cooking showcase by Promise Land Urban Farm demonstrated how to create a vegetarian meal in under 30 minutes and a live performance by FAMU engineer and rapper Jbdreamz left the audience feeling inspired.

The event had an array of vendors in attendance that contributed to the joyous festival.

Zafir Furqan, a business major at FAMU and owner of MR. SMELL GOOD, shared his thoughts on the importance of attending cultural festivals and being a vendor at this years festival.

The Furaha Festival gives the community the opportunity to connect with one another on a personal level, with the age of technology people have lost touch with genuine in person interaction, ” he said. Events like the Furaha Festival gives student entrepreneurs like me the opportunity to promote my business and directly reach my community, It was great seeing different vendors showcase their products,” Furqan added.

This festival elevated the celebration of Black culture to a new level, enriching the community by commemorating Black history joyously and festively, Halisi Africa plans to initiate more community events and festivities in 2024.