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Promoting African heritage

Guinea born, African master, Fodé Moussa Camara, during one of his enthralling live performances.

Guinea born, African master, Fodé Moussa Camara, during one of his enthralling live performances.

Barbadians are being given an exceptional opportunity to enjoy the compelling rhythms and movement of authentic African drum and dance delivered by three acclaimed African masters at a free concert Wednesday, June 12, at the Frank Collymore Hall at 6:15 p.m.

The show is part of the Central Bank’s current series of sunset concerts and is presented by the Frank Collymore Hall in association with Akugbe, a recently formed non-profit company with the goals of promoting African heritage, including drum, dance, film, fashion, and cuisine.

Barbadians will also have the unique opportunity to study these cultural arts at the feet of the masters during three workshops sponsored by Barbados Yellow Pages and being held the following weekend, June 14, 15 and 16, with the first of these three targeted to advanced performers.

Marketing Manager of Global Directories/Barbados Yellow Pages, Pam Roach, said they were delighted to play a part in reconnecting Barbadians with their African heritage, and congratulated Akugbe for the initiative to bring African Masters, Sani-Abu, M’Bemba Bangoura, and Fod√ Moussa Camara to the island:

“Coming as it does during our Crop-Over Festival, this concert should be a very nice treat for Barbadians, and visitors to enjoy. Barbados Yellow Pages is known for connecting people with opportunities, and this is a unique opportunity for Barbadians to get in touch with their heritage, enjoy some of the best music and dance out of Africa, and also hone their cultural skills in the upcoming workshops.”

Among the concert headliners, Guinea born, Fod√ Moussa Camara, Musical Director of the renowned African Ballet, Gbassikolo, has performed extensively throughout Guinea, Senegal and Mali. Camara will be joined by M’Bemba Bangoura, also native to Guinea, who has travelled the world as a performer and teacher of the Djembe drum, and is revered for his high level of mastery.

The third member of this illustrious trio is Sani Abu, who began performing and touring at the age of 15 with Benin City’s Uyi-Edo Dance Theatre Troupe. He has most recently performed and taught in Canada, New Jersey and New York with several leading dance companies and festivals. Sani-Abu opened for the Broadway musical The Lion King, both in 2009 and 2010.

Akugbe’s founder is Barbadian Michael Slocombe, the Management Information Systems manager at the Barbados Community College, and a member of the Toronto-based percussion ensemble Baro-Dununba, which will have three of its members also perform at Wednesday’s concert. Slocombe has previously visited the African states of Guinea and Burkina-Faso, both as a student of percussion and as part of charitable missions. He said Akugbe, meaning “coming together”, hoped to do even more to bring Africa and Barbados together.

“This year’s event is a forerunner for an even bigger African Arts Programme planned for next year possibly coinciding with Black History Month or Emancipation celebrations where we will have workshops in the schools, as part of a festival featuring authentic African artistes, exposing Barbadians to traditional African instruments, and the wide variety of African musical genres including African jazz and salsa.”

Other partners in the programme include the National Cultural Foundation and the Commission for Pan African Affairs.

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