African Multicultural Dance and Music

By Sonah Syllah

The African Advisory Council of the Bronx Borough Office held its first African Multicultural Dance and Music Festival September 18 at Hostos Community College.

Bronx locals gathered for a day full of African pride, featuring performances, dance, music, theater and food. The event started out with the food. Everyone was directed to the Longwood Art gallery. The room had three different sections, one to line up for food, the second where people were sent to sit, converse and network. Lastly, there was a section with information about health insurance and help for immigrants.

Guests dined on loco (fried plantain), brochette (chicken and beef pike), Jollof Rice and many more African dishes.

“The food was a great addition to the celebration,” said Adama Noba, who is ethnically Guinean. “When I arrived and seen different types of dishes, my mouth didn’t hesitate to water. Immediately, I felt the excitement from seeing other people of different backgrounds feasting and enjoying some meals that I have grown up eating with my family. The sweetness of the fried plantains, the warmth the fried dough (my favorite dessert), and the spices the chicken held was amazing.”

After the meal, everyone was directed to the auditorium for the show. There were people from Africa, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Puerto-Rico, Jamaica and many other parts of the Caribbean.

Manny Guerra, who is originally from Ecuador, said he came to see the folklore. “I just want to see the music, the talent and anything that comes with the art,” Guerra said. He also pointed out that the African heritage was similar to his Latin background, “When God created the earth, he created the gardens with different flowers. We are all in the same garden so we might as well enjoy it.”

The show started off with the introduction of Queen Mothers, dowager queens who are the mothers of the reigning monarchs in their hometowns. One of the queen mothers prayed for the audience, chanting Christian and Muslim religious prayers. The national anthems of Africa and America followed.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr spoke about the rich diversity of the borough and he applauded the African community for reminding people of the royal lineage of continent’s peoples. “I want the young people to understand that we come from royalty,” he said. “It has to serve as an example that you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you come from.”

He said it was fitting to have the event at Hostos Community College, a learning institution that was founded on the struggles of Puerto Ricans decades ago in the South Bronx.

“This is a show of unity, this is a show of power, this is a show to anyone who thinks they are going to divide us, they are wrong,” said Diaz. “We’ll stop them in their tracks and then we are going to celebrate our history, all of it. The bad the good and everything in between.”

Diaz offered advice to the other borough presidents, saying he hoped that events like these spread all over the city. He then proclaimed September 2019 as “African Heritage and Culture Month.”

As the night went on, lights went low, singers sang high, poets told stories and dancers made a party. As Bourama Niambele, the chairman of the council said, “No matter where you are, be who you are.”

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