French musical duo Les Nubians perform. (Courtesy photo)
French musical duo Les Nubians perform. (Courtesy photo)

Closing out African Heritage Month, the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs recently held its elaborate eighth annual DC Africa Celebration as part of the multi-cultural program’s 11th year anniversary.

Showcasing a wide range of African countries all across the continent, actor Tim Reid who held a major role on the ’90s sitcom “Sister, Sister,” took to the podium Sept. 28 as an advocate for international affairs on the continent.

“When I often travel to various places in Africa and then come back to America, or anywhere in the world, there is never a place where I don’t see Africa’s footprint,” Reid said. “From the architecture, to the food, to dance, to culture. Picasso got his start because of Africa and the influence their original art had on him…so stand proud and always be proud to be from Africa and let’s  get more African-Americans to start going back to the continent.”

Drawing in dozens of residents across the region to the UDC Theatre of Arts in Northwest, the talent and rich history of the African arts gave all participants a chance to connect with their roots and remember why Africa is still so important as expressed by Mamadou Samba, director of the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs.

“Tonight’s event is one of our most anticipated events,” Samba said. “DC is the only city that has an Office of African Affairs where are mayor talks about DC values and this event is a great opportunity for the African community to showcase our rich cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity.”

With nearly 18,000 Africans living in D.C. from various parts of the continent, the celebration highlighted individuals from countries like Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Senegal, while giving attendees like Akosua Donkor, an opportunity to experience a special performance from the acclaimed Kankouran West African Dance Company.

“I try to come out to this event whenever I can,” Donkor said. “It’s important to celebrate African values and tradition and I just love seeing all of the people get together. It’s nothing like celebrating the arts knowing that all art forms comes from Africa. I can proudly say, I am honored to be African.”

The Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (MOAA) which was created nearly 11 years ago was implemented in order to fully engage district residents with the extraordinary diversity of the District’s African community and empower the African community with knowledge, useful resources and varied programs.

By serving as the liaison between the District’s African community, District government agencies and the Mayor, OAA aims to improve the quality of life of the District’s diverse African born constituencies and their children, increase civic and public engagement in the District’s African community and support community development.

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Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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