First Annual African Diaspora Banquet and Cultural Night

03 Jul First Annual African Diaspora Banquet and Cultural Night

The Foundation for Rural and Economic Development in Africa (FREDIA) organized a celebration of the African Diaspora on Feb. 17, 2017 at the Hollywood Rotary Club in Hollywood, FL. The event was an enriching experience that featured a buffet of different ethnic cuisines, a fashion show of African attires, a poetry reading, uplifting gospel/Christian music, and African dance music.

The food was a combination of African, Jamaican and Guyanese cuisines. Many thanks to Patty Holland who represented Africa with her fufu and egusi soup, among other dishes; Sheik’s Bakery and Cafe provided their healthy menu items, including the roti; and Aunti’s Jamaican restaurant provided a tray of jerk chicken.

The evening began with a welcome message from Bill Jong-Ebot, FREDIA’s executive director, in which he highlighted the organization’s core values, vision and mission.

Jamaican singer/songwriter Sharon Wiles blessed the evening with her uplifting songs, including “Bridge over Troubled Waters,” “You’re Never Alone,” “Whom Shall I Fear?” and “It’s Not Over.” Sharon is an extremely versatile singer given that she covers different music genres such as Reggae and Gospel. She said her singing ministry allows her to let her light shine and fulfill God’s divine purpose.

She said she has a message of hope through her songs: “Although life brings many obstacles and challenges, you can make it through with prayer, praise and fasting. Even in your valley moments you must still praise Him,” she noted.

Sharon was the 2015 and 2016 winner of the International Reggae World Music Awards for the best gospel reggae song. She was also named the 2010 Female Artist of the Year by organizers of the Caribbean Music Awards

Another highlight of the evening was a fashion show directed by Patricia Holland, owner of Patty’s Place African Designs. Her presentation received thunderous applause, particularly because the models were enthusiastic and made the audience feel involved in the show.

The fashion collection included a variety of men’s and women’s clothing, ranging from colorful and exquisite day dresses for women to visually arresting evening gowns. Models wore outfits that displayed the unique style of clothing representing the West African region.  One traditional outfit from Nigeria was the “buba“, an airy type blouse with long sleeve, and “Iro” the wrapper that’s tied on top of the “buba.” This head wrap is known as Gele‘.

Joshua Joseph, a Haitian born poet, novelist and public speaker, shared three pieces of original work. Joshua said he uses his poetry to praise God.

The evening concluded with African music provided by DJ Dezz. Evangelist Jerry Jarvis served as master of ceremony.

The event was an appreciation of the diversity of African culture through music, fashion, food and poetry. The next cultural night will be Feb. 17, 2018 at the same location. It will begin at 7 p.m.

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