Live music, delicious cuisines, colourful dress and sporting talent are set to highlight the diversity of African countries at a cultural celebration on Saturday.
The Ballarat African Association is bringing together the entire community with its Cultural Festival, a colourful and family-friendly event.
The festival features band One Spirit Africa, children’s activities, soccer sessions run by senior and under-20 players of African heritage, along with cuisines from nine different countries.
The association’s president Isaac Moses said the free event would help shine a more positive light on the African community and celebrate its many contributions.
“It’s important to have this opportunity to know that the handful of youths that are breaking the law, they do not represent the community,” Mr Moses said.
“We are sending the message that these kids they do what they do, but there are kids within the community that are actually progressing and doing the right thing.”
The festival also aims to highlight a social cohesion program, which will hold cultural days and workshops.
The series of workshops throughout the year will focus on significant issues affecting the African community and the ways in which they can be addressed.
Guest speakers and industry professionals will delve into difficult but necessary topics such as family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, youth issues, employment issues and child protection.
Victoria Police is one of the organisations working alongside the Ballarat African Association.
Ballarat Police Superintendent Trevor Cornwill said police valued its relationship with the African community immensely.
“We’re very happy to be involved and participate in this community cultural event,” he said.
“It’s a good chance to showcase some of the African culture and for people to come and meet people from a diverse background, which is all part of our multicultural society.”
Ballarat African Association member Charles Nani said despite the name of the event, it was truly a festival for everyone.
“We are as a people very friendly and very outgoing, so it’s a chance for the community members to get to know us more,” he said.
“Let’s celebrate everybody, let’s celebrate Ballarat, it’s a multicultural community and we would like everybody to be a part of it.”
The Ballarat African Association Cultural Festival is taking place at Federation University’s Mt Helen Campus on Saturday, February 24, from noon until 8pm.