Category: Culture

Wangechi Mutu-Keep Moving, Keep Making Art

Text by Ananda Pellerin

Hugely prolific multidisciplinary artist Wangechi Mutucame first to the UK as a teenager from Nairobi, before moving to the US where she studied art at Parsons and Cooper Union and completed an MFA in sculpture at Yale. Now working between New York and her home city – Mutu – known for her fantastical drawings, collages, sculptures, installations, performances and film work, regularly returns to themes related to the female body, communication, migration and the human experience.

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Kenyan-born Wangechi Mutu will make works for New York’s Metropolitan Museum

By Victoria Valentine

THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART in New York recently announced new artist commissions.

The Met plans a series of contemporary art installations at its Fifth Avenue flagship. For one of the projects, Wangechi Mutu is creating sculptures that will be installed in the niches in the museum’s Fifth Avenue facade.

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Moroccan American Network considers Moroccan cities for 2020 Morocco Day

The first Morocco Day, in Washington, D.C., celebrated the culture and heritage of the city of Zagora, the gate to the Moroccan Sahara desert.

The Moroccan American Network (MAN), an organization dedicated to create business opportunities for Moroccan small enterprises in the US, is preparing a list of Moroccan city candidates for the second annual Morocco Day, in which the culture and heritage of Moroccan cities are celebrated.

The network said in a previous statement that it will celebrate one Moroccan city from each of the 12 regions of the North African country every March 29 for the next 12 years in Washington, D.C.

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African Migrants Strive to Preserve Their Cultural Heritage

By Sharon Birch-Jeffrey*

To experience a taste of African culture deep inside the Big Apple, visitors – including many Senegalese – turn to Le Petit Senegal (Little Senegal), a West African neighborhood in West Harlem, New York.

African grocery shops, fabric stores, hair braiding parlors and regional restaurants sit shoulder to shoulder along the streets.

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Africa Salon festival in Yale University to celebrate arts and culture of the diaspora

By Adam Gaberapril

Africa Salon, Yale’s celebration of contemporary African arts and culture, returns to New Haven Friday-Saturday, April 12-13.

The fifth annual festival will bring poets, writers, filmmakers, comedians, and musical artists to Yale and New Haven to showcase the diversity of art and culture throughout the African diaspora.

According to the organizers, at a time when contemporary African art is drawing more eyes than ever, the salon invites audiences to rethink their conceptions of the continent and diaspora — to watch, listen, and respond — and to celebrate the creation and complexity of contemporary African narratives.  

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Celebrating Africa Culture at Eastern Kentucky University

By Samantha Tamplin

Traditional African dancers, drummers, poets and a panel of speakers performed at Eastern Kentucky University’s Africa Today event on March 22.

The event was hosted by the African Student Association (ASA) and was held in the O’Donnell auditorium in Whitlock.

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Africa Day at Univeristy of Virginia celebrates black pride and first-generation students

This year Africa Day focused on performances of empowerment
By Maya Das

When she arrived at the University, Uma Jalloh, current president of the University’s Organization of African Students, wanted to showcase her personal experience as a first-generation college student.

Her parents are immigrants from Guinea, but Jalloh was born in the U.S. After moving back to Guinea for a brief period of time, she returned to the United States and has lived in America since the age of six. She describes her experience of coming to America as a time of self-discovery and a chance to find her true identity, which blends both African and American culture.

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International Mall Offers a Cultural Experience & Unique Shopping


Few Americans travel to Africa and even fewer have been to Somalia. But you can get a taste of African and international culture and goods right here in Louisville at the International Mall at Eighth and York streets.

A large warehouse-type building is separated into small rooms housing several businesses, including shops, tailors, groceries and even a barber, all owned by independent business owners who come together to support each other. If you’ve ever traveled to a country with a market area or medina, you’ll recognize the small stalls that use every inch of space to store and display wares. Brightly colored rugs, dresses and curtains line the walls and hang from the ceilings. There are beautiful golden tea sets, plates and stackable cookware, alongside faux flower arrangements and beautiful headscarves.

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Celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson, films in Houston with West African community

By Eric Sandler

Chef Marcus Samuelsson spent this past weekend in Houston filming for his PBS reality series No Passport Required. Slated to air later this year, the episode will focus on Houston’s West African community and its rapidly growing presence on Houston’s culinary scene.

Houston will be one of six cities featured in season two. The show will also cover Filipino food in Seattle, Italian food in Philadelphia, Armenian food in Los Angeles, Chinese food in Las Vegas, and Brazilian and Portugese food in Boston.

Samuelsson tells CultureMap that he visited a few spots in Houston to complete his tour, including Safari, the Nigerian restaurant that’s operated in southwest Houston for 30 years.

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University of Maryland highlights diversity of African diaspora at Black Culture Expo

By Joy Saha

University of Maryland students hailing from as close as Baltimore and Washington D.C., and as far as Nigeria and Ghana, gathered in Stamp on Friday to acknowledge the contributions of various cultures of the black diaspora from Africa.

To celebrate Black History Month, the African Students’ Progressive Action Committee hosted the Black Cultural Expo to appreciate “the many different people that have connections to the African continent,” said the committee’s president Clydelle Agyei, a junior public health science major

“Our organization mainly focuses on African communities, but this time we wanted to broaden the spectrum,” said ASPAC co-vice president Karsten Dankyi, a junior neurobiology and physiology major.

“We wanted to do Africans, African Americans, Afro-Latinos. Just something that everyone could come and share and learn something in the process.The first half of the Expo featured five students showcasing their photography, painting, a cosmetic line and a clothing brand.

Isha Kamara, a junior theater major, displayed Iced Out Cosmetics, her personal cosmetic line that featured brightly colored lipsticks, collections of false eyelashes and a variety of bold facial glitters. For Kamara, her business is more than just makeup. It’s also meant to empower and represent both the black community and the queer community. Continue reading “University of Maryland highlights diversity of African diaspora at Black Culture Expo”

PhilAesthetic: AAMP celebrates the African Diaspora in Philadelphia

Three new exhibitions and over a dozen programs will take place from February through May

PhilAesthetic returns to the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) to celebrate the African Diaspora.

Funded through The PNC Foundation through the PNC Arts Alive initiative, and curated by AAMP, PhilAesthetic shines a light on the vastness, depth and impact of diasporic arts and culture here in Philadelphia, and worldwide.

This year marks the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of Africans to British colonies of 1619. These individuals brought with them a rich cultural tapestry that would shape the foundations of our country, and go on to influence creative expression around the globe.

Honoring the cultural contributions of diasporic communities past and present, this year’s PhilAesthetic celebration includes three new exhibitions at AAMP, including “AAMP on Paper: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” along with “Baye Fall: Roots in Spirituality, Fashion” and “Resistance and The Sacred Star of Isis and Other Stories,” which include photographs by MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora founders Laylah Amatullah Barrayn Adama and Delphine Fawundu. In addition to these exhibitions, PhilAesthetic includes more than a dozen programs held both at the museum and with partnering institutions around Philadelphia through May.

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Pan African Festival Connects African Diaspora Through the Arts

More than 100 artisans and 170 films from around the world are being showcased at the 27th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.

The multiday event in the largely African American neighborhood of Baldwin Hills aims to connect Africans to people of African descent from around the world.

“As a result of the slave trade and colonization, African people are spread all over the planet, so we get a chance through this festival, get a chance to know each other,” said the festival’s executive director, Ayuko Babu.

Film, fine art, fashion and jewelry with Africa as inspiration are all featured at the festival.

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West African Students host annual African week to highlight diversity

From Feb. 17-23, the Wellesley African Students’ Association (WASA) invites the Wellesley College community to take part in Africa Week.

Originally called the African Film Festival when it was established in 2004, the event as a chance for the community to focus on different African perspectives through film.

Africa Week is put on during Black History Month and focuses on having the community engage with various aspects of different African cultures. Aside from solely screening films, Africa Week allows WASA to invite different organizations on campus to showcase their talents in order to highlight the diversity of African culture.

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Interviews form basis of new play about the legacy of Sudan in Iowa City

On Friday, Feb. 15 from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capital Museum, the African Studies Program and the Office of Outreach and Engagement at the University of Iowa presented My Daughters Are My Writings, a new play based on oral histories of seven Iowa City residents from Sudan compiled by two UI graduate students, followed by a talk by Steve Howard, a scholar visiting from Ohio University (Athens), about Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, a Sudanese Muslim social reformer whose work initiated the Republican Brotherhood before and after Sudan’s independence from Britain.

The play is a truly interdisciplinary affair: Written by UI alum Margot Connolly, based on excerpts from Howard’s book and interviews by graduate students from the history department, it is directed by UI theater graduate student Britny Horton, who acts in the play alongside three fellow graduate students.

Taha is best known for the Second Message of Islam, which distinguishes the verses in the Koran revealed in Medina (the basis of Sharia law) from those initially revealed in Mecca. The latter, from Taha’s perspective, would provide the basis of an ideal religion based on freedom and equality — including the equality of men and women.

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Music Professor Receives Prestigious International Fellowship

Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship supports George Dor’s work with Nigerian university

George Worlasi Kwasi Dor, a music professor at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded a fellowship by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program to work with professors at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.


Dor, a native of Ghana who holds the McDonnell-Barksdale Chair of Ethnomusicology at UM, will travel to Nigeria in the summer of 2019 to collaborate with Adeoluwa Okunade and Marie Agatha Ozah on field research in ethnomusicology, curriculum development, and mentoring of graduate assistants and assistant lecturers.


“The research portion of the project will consider the ways indigenous knowledge in traditional ethnic music stays relevant to contemporary communities in Ghana and Nigeria,” Dor said. “This will build on research Dr. Ozah and I have collaborated on before, and we look forward to using the opportunity to train graduate students in ethnographic field research methods. Continue reading “Music Professor Receives Prestigious International Fellowship”