The Africans and African Descendants Friendship Club (AADFC) will host its fifth year Taste of Africa event in St. Albert, a celebration that coincides with Black History Month.
The Arden Theatre will be the place to be on Feb. 24, starting at 4 p.m., when people of African descent in St. Albert come together to showcase and celebrate their heritage.
Having lived in St. Albert for a long time and worried about forgetting her own culture, Helen Agbonison decided to start a community where every St. Albert resident from Africa and of African descent can come and share their cultures. The community began in August of 2019 with an evening in the park, a celebration of African heritage that includes music, dance, storytelling, and a variety of African cuisines.
“If our kids were back home, they could be experiencing our cultural lifestyles there, but now that we brought them here, it is on us to teach them of their heritage,” Agbonison said.
She said being away from one’s native land for a long time makes the loss of culture inevitable, and that is why the AADFC aims to preserve and promote their cultures. She says it will be a pleasure to host a diverse group of people at the upcoming Taste of Africa event, because she wants people to experience first-hand, the richness of African cultures.
“Winter is a very cold time that forces people to stay home; that is why Taste of Africa comes to spice things up,” Despite how low temperatures drop in February, Agbonison said Black History Month is the ideal time to host Taste of Africa.
Organized by volunteers, the festival is usually sponsored by the City of St. Albert and for the last three years, Canadian Heritage.
With more than 800 people in St. Albert identifying as of African descent, Agbonison said the event always offers an element of surprise and is never plain and boring. Besides the usual music and dance, she says this year’s event will feature a contemporary African fashion show with models in African attire that can be purchased from the additional vendors invited.
The food will consist of an assortment of potluck samples, portioned in containers, and packaged in a pizza box. Helen says this method was started around the COVID-19 pandemic period, as a strategy to avoid a stagnant line and promote social distancing. She also encourages others whose dishes are not in the samples prepared to bring them over and share it with everyone.
Tickets can be purchased online and Abonison urges people to reserve their spots, because they will not be selling them at the door. She said it would be a disappointment to turn people away because tickets had sold out.