Steel drums echoed powerfully throughout the U Street corridor as the DC Host Committee welcomed the long-awaited National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to the District.
Baba Joseph Ngua, master ancestral drummer and volunteer said during the Festival of the Arts celebration on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the African American Civil War Museum (AACW) in Northwest that “this is the day that the ancestors have prophesied about and it is now coming into full manifestation”
“The ancestors sent me here to drum up their presence,” he said. “I am here to drum up their blessings for a glorious future for future generations.”
Ngua said that drummers are the vanguards of ancestral oracles, which plays a significant role in African culture.
“The beating of the drum will invoke the presence of God,” he said. “As well as the ancestors, and all of our associate spiritual forces.”
During the daylong Festival of the Arts, the group held a watch party for the NMAAHC dedication ceremony, a descendants presentation, live music and a steel drum showcase featuring the East of the River Boys and Girls Steel Band.
“This day will be remembered as the day of universal recognition and acknowledgement of the great contributions of the Africans,” Ngua said. “It is very important that this happened in order to make African people heal in the United States and worldwide.”
Ngua contends that everyone of African descent who may be lost will recover the memory of who they are through the newly erected structure.
“We are from the greatest land, which is also the foundation of humanity and that is what the museum signifies,” he said. “Our ancestors didn’t get the accolades they deserved, but from their suffering their children will reap the benefits.”
DC Host Committee co-chairs Frank Smith Jr., director of the African American Civil War Museum, and Charles Hicks, chair of the Black History Committee, planned for the celebration for more than a year with the help of 200 volunteers.
“We have waited a long time for the work, life, culture and recognition of African-Americans to be placed and honored on the National Mall,” Hicks said. “Let’s make sure that we not only take part in this celebration, but we do all that we can to show the country and the world what D.C. hospitality really looks like, so much that everyone will join in on the fight for statehood.”
The DC Host Committee events include book signings, concerts, exhibits, drum circles, movie screenings, receptions and watch parties that will run until Sunday, Oct. 2.
Jerry Crayton, a volunteer at AACW for the past 10 years, called it an honor to be a part of the host committee’s welcoming of the nation’s newest treasure.
“It’s so great the whole story can be told,” he said. “Here at the African American Civil War Museum we can only show a piece of our history, however, the national museum can show it all.”
For a complete list of activities, visit the DC Host Committee website at www.dchost.org.