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Originally published Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Weekend highlight

Seattle Center's Sundiata Festival celebrates African culture

Seattle Center's Sundiata Festival celebrates African culture.

Seattle Times staff

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Sundiata, the legendary 13th century Lion King of Mali and one of the inspirations of Disney's "The Lion King," preserved the pride of his people through his heroic rescue of the griot, the tribes' storyteller and keeper of history and culture. His spirit lives on in Festival Sundiata, celebrating and preserving the culture of Africa and African Americans for all, Saturday through Monday at Seattle Center.

"Unity in the Community" is this year's festival theme at opening ceremonies noon Saturday with Taste of Sundiata Youth Showcase performances at Fisher Pavilion, where a marketplace, chefs' cooking demonstrations and entertainment continue throughout the festival.

Music and dance performances include jazz, soul and hip-hop all weekend at the Center House and Fisher Pavilion, with the popular Northwest Gospel Music Explosion from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday. The Children's African Village, a new feature on the Center House third floor, immerses children in African culture and history with storytelling, workshops, performances and craft activities including creating masks to wear in daily Carnivale kids' parades. Storytelling, Dancing Feet and Talking Drums stories and legends of Ghana carry on the African griot tradition at the Center House Literary Café Sunday and Monday.

The Northwest African American Museum joins the Festival Sundiata celebration with free admission Saturday and Sunday, plus an African dance workshop for all ages Sunday.

The details

• Festival Sundiata

Time: Noon-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Monday.

Cost: Free.

Location: Center House and Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center.

Getting there: Seattle Center hotline for traffic and parking info, 206-233-3989; information on Metro bus service, 206-553-3000 or tripplanner.metrokc.gov. Seattle Center operates several garages and parking lots including discounts for carpools at some locations.

Details: 206-684-7200 or 206-329-8086 or www.seattlecenter.com.

• Festival Sundiata Weekend at Northwest African American Museum

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Time: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, African dance workshop 2:30-4 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: Free.

Location: 2300 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle.

Details: 206-518-6000 or www.naamnw.org.

Madeline McKenzie: 206-464-8245 or mmckenzie@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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