Capital AfroFest launches in downtown Lansing

Sarah Spohn

Capital AfroFest, a multifaceted new festival dedicated to celebrating African culture, connection and representation, happens this weekend in downtown Lansing.

Hosted by The Michigan Dance & Movement Collective and Tatse & Alobosa Bar on Washington Square, the event hosts two days of food, fun, fashion and live entertainment.

Taiwo Adeleye, the owner of Tatse and Alobosa Bar, said the event’s mission is to introduce or reintroduce African life to the Lansing community. Adeleye grew up in Nigeria and moved to America in 2015. Once living in Lansing, he missed the food and culture he was accustomed to. “If it’s not available, then I should create it,” Adeleye thought.

“We will have two days of street vending throughout the blocks of S. Washington Square. There will be opportunities for visitors from Lansing or outside of Lansing to shop at African and black-owned businesses.”

Tatse and Alobosa Bar, a Nigerian restaurant, opened in February 2022. The restaurant is known for its chicken bowls, veggie bowls, yam bowls, bean bowls, fish bowls, fufu with egusi/okro and more. But its mission is bigger than just dishing out delicious menu items.

“We are not just selling food — we’re sharing the culture,” Adeleye said. “There have been many people coming down to learn about the food, where it’s from, and to try different kinds of food,” he said.

As for the inaugural event this weekend, Adeleye said this is just the start.

“The Capital AfroFest is one of the many things Tatse will be doing in Lansing,” he said. “When we say African festival, it’s not just an African festival. It’s a platform for people to come and not just see African culture, but a cross-cultural event.”

The events start at 10 am on both days, with live performances of African dance, music and beats beginning at noon. And along with African board game competitions, participants can enter to win gift cards to local downtown businesses.

Tatse will host Friday and Saturday night soirees, including the AfroBall, with live music and a three-course meal. The family-friendly events, including African culture talks, games, music, activities and the vendor market, are free to enjoy. Tickets for The AfroBall are $50 and include a three-course meal. VIP tickets are $50 and include the gala, VIP entrance and sitting at all parties, including the after-party. All tickets can be purchased in advance via Eventbrite.

“The AfroBall will have a fashion show with a runway with 10 designers showcasing their walks with African designers,” Adeleye said. “Most importantly, part of the AfroBall is to honor African excellence. We will be giving a recognition award to Nyaka, a nonprofit organization in Uganda. We’ll be recognizing their work and the African excellence in what they’ve been doing.”

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