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Taste of Africa showcases a vibrant culture

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Helen Agbonison is the spokesperson for the Africans & African Descendants Friendship Club of St. Albert's Taste of Africa on Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Arden Theatre from 4 to 7 p.m. The three-hour event will be filled with dance, storytelling, drumming, poetry, a fashion parade in the theatre followed by food tasting of African dishes in Progress Hall. CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette


Taste of Africa

Africans & African Descendants Friendship Club of St. Albert

Saturday, Feb. 29, from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Arden Theatre

5 St. Anne Street

Tickets: Advance: $10/adults, $5/children 12 and under. Door: $15/adults and $10/schildren. Tickets at or 780-850-0978

Far from being the Dark Continent, Africa is the polar opposite – an exciting continent with a dynamic arts and cultural scene.

Its art, food, music, dances, languages and traditional practices are special, diverse and distinctive. To take part in a celebration is a way to share Africa’s beauty and learn about it.

For Africans & African Descendants Friendship Club of St. Albert, sharing the beauty of their culture is part of building community. African nations and tribes traditionally used festivals and cultural gatherings as a way of bonding and solidifying ties.

As a celebration of Black History Month, and a way to tell their stories, Taste of Africa is coming to the Arden Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 29.

“We as people of African descent living in St. Albert seek ways to promote our cultural assets. We see St. Albert as home, and since we live here, we would like St. Albert to see something new about our culture through our eyes,” said Helen Agbonison, founder/president of the friendship club.

The cultural event is a mix of old and new, respecting the continent’s vibrant traditions while embracing Canada’s western culture.

Taste of Africa features dance, storytelling, drumming, poetry, singing, armchair travel and a fashion parade in the Arden Theatre. Immediately following the entertainment is a rich food tasting bash with delicacies from different parts of Africa and the Caribbean.

Opening the ceremony is actor Jesse Lipscombe and club member Owen Fregene. The first act the duo introduces is a Welcome Dance performed by children.

Tanzanian author, dramatist and storyteller Tololwa Mollel succeeds them with a telling of Anthem of Life, a sample of Zulu-inspired work. The condensed theatrical storytelling piece is backed with colourful slides.

Girls Got Moves dance team shakes it out with vibrant, energetic modern African moves, while Lenore Mitchell takes it down a notch with an armchair travel presentation from five countries.

Fashionistas will glam on to a dress parade from various countries and tribes including Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Ethiopian/Caribbean poet Celine Caruso Dixon plans to read excerpts from her Poseidon Series while St. Albert vocalist Cyra Paddon showcases her powerful voice singing Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come.

“Cyra is such a soulful singer and young people enjoy her," Agbonison said.

Dance is extremely important in all African cultures and La Connexional invites the audience on stage to learn a grooving Afro-Latino dance even as Trincan Steel Orchestra concludes the entertainment with light-hearted, sunny music from Trinidad-Tobago.

Afterwards all guests are invited to sample a variety of snacks, main dishes and drinks from African and the Caribbean in Progress Hall. Check out the jollof rice, moi moi (steamed black eyed peas pudding), chicken kebabs, curry potatoes or Trinidadian roti.

In closing, Agbonison noted: “This event will help us project ourselves in the community as people that have something to give.”

Tickets are $5 to $10 at