Culture & Heritage

bride_filding_questions_from_elders_thumb307_Marriage is defined as a union between two agreed persons, and the process that completes the union is solemnization. This process varies due to cultural, religious and tradition beliefs.

The Gbagyis in the Federal Capital (Nigeria) have a process that leads to either traditional, court or church marriage. First, while a man is courting a girl, he introduces the girl to his parents and then his relatives in order of family chain.

When that is completed, about four people are assigned to visit the family of the girl through a middle man who serves as a mediator. Requirements are given to meet with family tradition in preparation for an engagement ceremony. These four persons report back to the man's family, and a date a set for the engagement where the requirements are taken, and elders in return give their blessings as a sign of confirmation and acceptance.

remains_of_PortchicagoToday the piers are gone and the navy station is in a faded part of the Concord Weapons Station in the east bay of the San Francisco Bay. However, what took place that night is unforgettable... 

It was a Monday night in July, 1944 when at the Port Chicago, Naval Weapons Center in Concord, CA, 48 miles east of San Francisco, two ships were tied up to a newly constructed pier; The Quinault Victory was ready for its maiden load, and the EA Bryan had returned for the second trip of its two year old life. The Second World War was raging, and the Navy was segregated, having only recently opened up jobs other than kitchen help to blacks and only four months before it would commission its first thirteen black officers.  There were a half million African Americans in the navy, however all but very few were enlisted men.  The ships were to head to the South Pacific where the munitions would be transferred to war ships.

WilliamLeviDawsonMany people are surprised to learn that musicians of African descent have written and performed classical music for centuries.  I was one of them.  For 33 years after starting college, I enjoyed classical music on library recordings and on FM radio.  In 1995, I happened to see two 1993 CDs of the Detroit Symphony in a music store.  I bought both and entered a beautiful new world of classical music: William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American) and No. 2 (Song of a New Race); the Negro Folk Symphony of William Levi Dawson; Duke Ellington's Harlem and Suite from The River.

Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony (28:26) was recorded on Chandos 9226 (1993). Michael Fleming's liner notes tell us:  “The three movements of the symphony are entitled: The Bond of Africa, Hope in the Night and O, le' me shine, shine like a Morning Star!” The symphony was first performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, in 1934.  Michael Fleming points out it was revised after the composer visited Africa: “After a trip to West Africa in 1952, however, the composer revised it to embody authentic African rhythmic patterns, and it was in this form that Stokowski recorded it, and it is most frequently played today.

sally_bassett_torchWhy you must visit the popular memorial site on Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail!

As Bermuda gears up to host the Sixth Annual African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) Conference on October 15th-17th, so does anticipation to view the controversial Sally Bassett Memorial Statue that was erected a little over a year ago. Located on the grounds of Bermuda’s Cabinet Office, the statue is a very popular site that is now a part of the island’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail. This year’s 2010 ADHT conference, with the theme ‘Evolution of the Trail,’ will be about the history, culture, global communities and economic empowerment within the Diaspora. In addition to workshops, meetings and gala receptions, conference attendees will get to view the long-awaited Sally Bassett Memorial Statue as a part of cultural activities during the conference.

Pertinent issues and resolutions about the international advancement of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail will be discussed at the upcoming conference, along with issues about black heritage sites, like the Sally Bassett structure, which was not without opposition when plans were being made to erect it. The idea of a statue honouring a woman who had committed a crime being erected on government grounds did not sit too well with some Bermudians. To understand this controversy, you must first understand the story of Sally Bassett.

Black descendent of Daniel Boone establishes repository of local Afro-American culture, with an ever-growing collection of interesting artifacts that testify to lives richly lived by ancestors in southwest Missouri.


Father Moses Berry’s religious heritage as an Eastern Orthodox priest goes back to the first century of Christianity; whereas his African-American heritage and personal history are much more recent, but in many ways just as profound. When he returned to the family farm in Ash Grove, Missouri he ”came home” in many senses of that term. And when he established an Orthodox Church and the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum, in which today you will find one of the best and personal collections of “memorabilia” and artifacts relating to the institution of slavery as well as to Father Berry’s own personal African-American heritage, he created a living testament to all those who personify the significant and historic role that Blacks played in Missouri and in the United States.

Entrée to Black Paris™ interviews noted Franco-Senegalese Chef Rougui Dia.


When talking about "The Black Pearl" in relation to Paris, one thinks immediately of Josephine Baker - the African-American woman who took the city by storm in a theatrical revue and rose to stardom overnight in October 1926. In 2005, Paris discovered that it had a new "Black Pearl" who was rising to stardom as quickly as Baker did. But this time, the theater was a professional kitchen, and the woman was Franco-Senegalese instead of African-American. Her promotion to head chef at a premier restaurant in the posh 7th arrondissement caused nothing less than a media frenzy.

capecoast01Ghana, formerly called the Gold Coast, is found in West Africa and positioned a little north of where longitude 0 crosses latitude 0. The name Ghana was taken upon the attainment of independence from Britain on March 6, 1957, from one of the ancient empires of the Western Sudan by that name which flourished in the area of modern Mali. The Sudanese empires grew rich and powerful from the trans-Saharan trade between the West African subregion and the North African states until the arrival of the Europeans on the coast in the 15th century changed the direction of trade and brought decline that contributed to the end of the great Sudanese empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai.

In 1471 when the first Europeans arrived on the shores of the coast of Guinea now modern Ghana, the area was occupied by many small independent states. The Portuguese, led by Don Diego D’Azambuja, were overwhelmed by the display of gold among the natives and so called the country the Gold Coast and the native settlement, El-Mina or The Mine.

Evewright_24_may_2010_credit-_Kadija_SesayTalented artist to create world's first, sand drawing project using participation of people.

Everton Wright (Evewright) has wanted to be an artist for as long as he remembers. Even though he says that it has taken some time for him to get to the point to be able to focus solely on work as an artist, he somehow always found time to draw. “Drawing is my gift from God. Drawing is always the first entry point to my different creations,” he says.

Evewright is a London-based artist and experienced brand/communication consultant, who now draws and uses his artistic talents full-time in his own studio, EveWrightVisual Arts and Communications. With twenty years of experience in commercial design and art direction, he has carved out a name for himself.  He has produced everything from sculpture, video, painting and drawing to create new forms and materials for top companies and media groups. His unconventional creations of art have been described as bold, daring, confrontational and of course, uniquely beautiful.  His clients have included Sony Music, South Africa Airways, Sunoco, and Talawa Theatre Company, the most noted black-oriented theater in Great Britain.

old_school_in_BuxtonCanadian historical city was once a place of refuge for black slaves.

Between the years of 1801 and 1876, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to prepare a report on the “Canadian Negroes” and what was known as the Elgin Settlement; a community of African-Americans who had escaped slavery by way of the Underground Railroad.

His report said in part, “Twenty years ago, most of them were slaves who owned nothing, not even their children. Now they own themselves; they own homes and farms, and they have their wives and children about them. They are enfranchised citizens of a government which protects their rights.”

The city’s iconic Liberty Bell, originally a symbol for the abolishment of slavery, also has ties to black history.

liberty_bell1Most people know about the Liberty Bell, the most popular tourist attraction in Philly. But did you know that it was once a symbol that stood for the abolishment of slavery? The connection between the Liberty Bell and African-American history is revealed at the Liberty Bell Center where exhibitions, videos and interactive displays explain how the bell became the icon of freedom for American and a symbol of anti-slavery for the abolitionist movement.

At the main entrance to the Liberty Bell Center you will find informational panels about the enslaved Africans who worked for George Washington's during his tenure. Visitors heading to the Liberty Bell will actually walk upon the site of the quarters of slaves who worked at the President's House. A President's House Commemorative Site, slated to open in 2010 a few steps away from the Liberty Bell, will honor enslaved Africans who lived in the first Executive Mansion.