There is perhaps no better way to celebrate the sesquicentennial’s theme of diversity and inclusion than by literally dancing to it. And, that’s exactly what was in store for anyone who attended the Victoria African and Caribbean Cultural Society’s Drum and Dance Festival.
The festival, part of the VACCS’s Black History Month Canada 150 celebrations, took place at the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre in Victoria on February 4th. The all-day family-friendly festivities included dancing lessons from Cameroonian dancer and musician Jacky Essombe, a drum-along with Jordan Hanson and musical performances from all over the globe.
“Our goal was to have 150 people drumming together in the same place but we had more than 200 people,” said Pulcherie Mboussi, founder and program director of VACCS. “The drum festival was unique because, even though it was Black History Month, we also had Japanese, Polynesian, Mexican, and Indian [musical performances]. We invited all of the community to drum and dance together.”
Two weeks after the festival, continuing the Black History Month celebrations, VAACS hosted an intimate screening of The Colour of Beauty, a short documentary by Elizabeth St. Philip that examines racism in the fashion industry, which was followed by a panel discussion.
The month’s grand finale, which happened the following week, was a formal evening at the 4th annual Community Recognition Awards gala, a celebration of members of Victoria’s black community who have distinguished themselves in the public, private, or community sectors. The evening honoured this year’s award recipients: poet Ann-Bernice Thomas, artist Eva Campbell, mathematician Dr. Martial Agueh (posthumously), and mixed martial arts competitor Keith Nadasen.
Though Black History Month has drawn to a close, Mboussi and the talented team at VAACS are already working on the 5th annual African Cultural Week and AfriCaFest, a weeklong celebration of African food, music, and more that begins on May 20 in Victoria.