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Arts and Entertainment

Africa Umoja returning to Charlotte
Democracy tour celebrating 20 years of freedom
Published Friday, August 15, 2014 2:00 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

Ernest Kelly, president of International Arts Foundation, with Gerald Johnson, publisher of The Charlotte Post, at Thursday's reception announcing the return of Africa Umoja to Charlotte Oct. 14-19 at Knight Theater.

If you missed Africa Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness when it came to Charlotte last year, you missed a great show.

“It’s a remarkable performance,” said Gerald Johnson, publisher of The Charlotte Post. “You will a laugh. You will cry. You will jump up. You will dance... The program is just fantastic.”

Africa Umoja tells the story of South Africa and its people through music. It’s an explosion of song, dance and storytelling that tells the tale of South Africa through the eyes of Africans.

Known for its beautiful costumes and award-winning, internationally acclaimed choreography, the show has packed theaters around the world in over 50 countries. Although it's been touring for over a decade, last year's tour was the first to come to America.

Johnson was so impressed by the 2-hour show that he offered to help promote the tour if it ever returned to the city.

“I thought more people needed to know about this,” he said. “We really wanted to help get the word out.”

Africa Umoja will return to Charlotte this fall, running Oct. 14-19 at Knight Theater. Upon hearing the news, Johnson kept his word. The Charlotte Post hosted a reception Thursday night at Mosaic Village Rooftop Terrace for local dignitaries, social influencers, educators, civic leaders and media outlets to learn more about the production.

The purpose was not only to spread the word about the upcoming tour but to also solicit community input on how the South African performers could immerse themselves into the community during their one-week run in Charlotte.

“Some of our cast are as young as 19 years old and they are traveling the world,” said Ernest Kelly, president of International Arts Foundation, the company responsible for bringing the show to the United States. “Every week or two weeks, we are changing cities, and they can’t wait to get back to Charlotte.”

While in town, Kelly said the cast is looking to work with community organizations and educators to arrange workshops, master classes and empowerment sessions for youth, seniors and others in the community who may not otherwise be able to attend the show.

“We want to involve the community,” he said. “We want to reach as many people as we can.”

Kelly said those who attended last year’s show can expect an entirely different experience in 2014.

"This year is a special tour for us because South Africa is celebrating 20 years of freedom and democracy,” he said. “This rendition is going to be different from last year’s rendition because we are going to be highlighting how far South Africa has come in 20 years and also the impact that [Nelson] Mandela has had, not only on South Africa but on the world.”

Tickets to see Africa Umoja are currently on sale and available online at www.umojausatour.com or by calling (704) 372-1000.

Youth organizations, community groups and educators interested in meeting the cast or arranging for a special engagement can contact Kelly directly at (504) 367-1313.

Click here to read what those who saw Africa Umoja in 2013 had to say about their experience:

Check out images from Thursday’s reception:


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