A consciousness-raising journey, starting in Ethiopia and other countries in Africa before skipping over to the Americas and winding up in the sunny Caribbean, will provide a respite from the winter blahs, gray skies and cold temperatures – all without leaving Buffalo.
The virtual trip is part of the second annual “Africa: Spirit and Sound” presented by Healing Hands and Juneteenth of Buffalo on Monday in Kleinhans Music Hall. The two shows at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. use the arts as a vehicle to teach African and African-American history, and to show how Africans have influenced other countries.
“We want to inject the idea that we are capable and conscious enough to take care of ourselves,” said Ros Jomo, a musician with Healing Hands.
The educational presentation includes music, dancing, poetry and special guest Donisha Prendergast, a filmmaker and granddaughter of reggae legend Bob Marley.
Prendergast said she is eager to return to Buffalo following a visit last year for a screening of her film, “RasTa: A Soul’s Journey.” The documentary follows her around the world as she learns about the roots and evolution of the Rastafari culture that started in Jamaica with the “downtrodden ones, the poor people,” she said in a phone interview from her home in Jamaica.
Organizers are expecting about 15 schools to attend this year’s event. The show opens with an African-inspired story by Sharon Holley, a co-founder of Tradition Keepers and Spin-A-Storytellers and a retired librarian.
Then begins the “journey,” an on-screen, PowerPoint presentation that takes the audience to various countries represented in the show.
“It’s like we’re on an airplane visiting different parts of the world,” Jomo said.
The first stop is the African continent and will include clips of important historical and current figures as well as icons of well-known ancient sites.
Then it’s off to the Americas for an education about how the spirit of music helps black Americans express their culture. A gospel singer will perform spiritual songs to show how the African culture was transplanted during the transatlantic slave trade.
Anthony Neal, an associate professor at Buffalo State College, will recite a poem that gives a general overview of the transatlantic slave trade.
The final destination is the Caribbean with visual clips of early settlements and African people arriving there.
Prendergast then will speak about creating a world in which young people can prosper.
“Her message is to strive and empower themselves,” Jomo said.
“Africa: Spirit and Sound” is in keeping with the missions of Juneteenth and Kwanzaa to acculturate African-American children to the many possibilities that can take place when they are properly educated, Jomo said.
“We want to inspire them through the arts to find their special place – like math, science – and add value to the community. We want to encourage kids to engage in community building, educate them that we have the ability to fix our own problems,” Jomo said.
Admission is $5.50 for students and seniors, $10.50 for adults. For more information, call 948-5738.