Celebrating African Culture in Quinte
By Kodie Trahan-Guay
Get ready for a vibrant journey into the heart of African culture. The African Arts Institute is a non-profit organization in Belleville, Ontario hosting their inaugural event to celebrate African culture on Saturday, February 10th, 2024. The organization provides a platform to showcase and celebrate the arts, culture and traditions of Africa. February 10th will be a full day of programming in a few locations: music, craft and storytelling taking place at the Belleville Public Library with Cirque Kalabanté: Afrique en Cirque taking place at Bayside Secondary School in the evening. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
“Celebrating who we are as Africans is very vital. For any culture around the world, you celebrate who you are, it’s very important,” says Dr. Isaac Akrong, President of the African Arts Institute. “As we celebrate expressions of human beings, any person that breathes air, we share the element of humanity, which is understanding that every human being came from Africa at some point before the history books were written. Celebrating African culture means you, the reader, are celebrating yourselves.”
The day begins with a drumming workshop at 10 am led by Dr. Isaac Akrong. This workshop will give participants the opportunity to learn proper technique and some of the history of the drums including the cultural significance of the music.
At 11:30 am take part in a painting and collage workshop led by Emebet Belete. Everyone is welcome at this workshop where participants will explore the use of mixed media on canvas to create their very own piece of art.
Ananse Storytelling with Nana Yaa Yeboaa begins at 2 pm. A culture with a strong focus on oral tradition, Ananse stories originate in Ghana, West Africa and you will learn how these ancient stories are still as relevant today.
The day ends at Bayside Secondary School at 7 pm with a concert of Cirque Kalabanté’s Afrique en Cirque. A rhythmic performance combining musicians and acrobats with original choreography showcasing the diversity of traditional African arts. A high intensity performance that can’t be missed.
“In Africa you don’t separate music and dance, or the costumes and the makeup. It’s all one thing called the play, or “agoro” which is a term that is reflective of a play – playing by singing, or drumming, or acrobatics, or theatre,” says Dr. Akrong. “It encapsulated the essence of African playfulness, bringing joy to society.”
Tickets for the entire day are going fast as some of the morning activities at the Belleville Public Library have limited spaces. The concert finale at Bayside promises to be a highlight of the year.
“Tickets may be available at the door,” says Dr. Akrong. “But we might sell out, so it’s best to reserve tickets online.”
This event is just the first for the African Arts Institute. Keep watch on their social channels for everything they’ve got planned for 2024.
“Drumming classes will start February 16, every Friday at Quinte Arts Council. This is open to all ages and skill levels, come and have fun, and experience the joy of drumming in a group! We hope to bring you a summer concert as well. Stay tuned for that, and keep posted by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.”