2007 MOJA Arts Festival 

In a timely coincidence, this year Charleston's celebration of African-American and Caribbean culture happens to kick off the day after the Barbados U.S. ambassador pays the city a visit as part of the S.C. World Trade Center's Embassy Series. Caribbean cultural roots still run deep in this city. Charleston's first settlers were from Barbados, and most slaves who entered the city came from Africa by way of the Caribbean islands. Established in 1979 and named for the Swahili word meaning "one," MOJA is now an anchor in the city's fall arts scene that brings locals and tourists together in a 10-day festival. Both kids and great-grandparents take to the streets behind the U.S. Custom House Sept. 28 from 7-10 p.m. for the Reggae Block Dance, one of the festival's most popular events. The dancefest draws in as many as 18,000 people with bands, African drummers and dancers, ethnic foods, and international crafts. Headliner Slice International delivers an energetic show with a shot of calypso; DeLions of Jah and violinist Daniel Davis will also perform. In addition an impressive musical lineup of classical, gospel, jazz, and R&B, this year the festival offers a chance to appreciate visual art exhibits like The Thread Project: One World, One Cloth at City Gallery at Waterfront Park, a performance by the Genesis Dance Company of New York at the Gaillard Auditorium, a production of Langston Hughes' Tambourines to Glory at the Footlight Players Theatre, and a reading by poet Pearl Cleage, who wrote "If We Speak our Names" for Oprah's Legends Weekend. Educational workshops in public schools and senior citizen homes get kids and older folks in on the action. Don't miss the romantic Jazz Under the Stars concert at the College of Charleston featuring the sounds of Najee and Soulfood Jazz in front of the earthquake-cracked grandeur of Randolph Hall. For more information on times, tickets, and venues, call or visit the website. —Rachel Ward Sept. 27-Oct. 7. (843) 724-7305, www.mojafestival.com, 2007 MOJA Arts Festival

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