A weekend of cultural enlightenment and community outreach
By Nelson Underdue, Intern student reporter
The Betty T. Ferguson Center in Miami Gardens held a press conference and meet and greet to kick of a weekend of entertainment provided by the African Museum of Art and Culture.
The Nigerian American Foundation, in conjunction with the city of Miami Gardens, presented a weekend of cultural enlightenment and community outreach. From August 28th-29th AMAC hosted a concert and an evening gala promoting African heritage and culture.
Famed international performing artists descended upon Miami Gardens for the weekend. Thursday’s press conference offered the public a first glimpse at the stars of the event, including Latin-Grammy award winning meringue artist Ivelisse Santos and the event’s headliner, Nigerian born, world renowned recording artist, Flavour.
“I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to bring Africa to Miami Gardens” said Flavour during Thursday’s panel discussion. “This is just the Beginning.” The panel also included Santos, North Miami’s Miss African Roots winner, and hip hop artist Phresh, among others. Santos, from the Dominican Republic, was the only one of the seven panelists not of African descent. ”I feel like I’m African already!” Santos joked. “I feel like I’m your family.” Each of the panelists were participants in the AMAC weekend events.
All of the artists expressed their excitement for the AMAC weekend and overall appreciation for the efforts of the City of Miami Gardens in bringing African culture to the forefront of its future endeavors. The discussion was hosted by City of Miami Gardens Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro. We’re African not because we were born in Africa” said Ighodaro, “but because Africa was born in us”,
The weekend’s festivities serve as a fundraiser to begin work on the African Museum of Art and Culture. The estimated $5 million project hopes to be a hub for African history and education. The proposed location, Northwest 207th Street and Northwest 32nd Avenue, has been met with some resistance from residents and officials in the area. Despite the opposition, Ighodaru remains optimistic about the opportunities that the museum can provide. “People pay for art”, Ighodaro said, “the museum will be an economic engine and will provide resources for the community.”
Ighodaru the driving force behind the planned project hopes that the AMAC benefit concert and gala will show skep-tics that an African Art museum has a place in Miami Gardens. Upon completion, the museum will not only have an exhibit hall which will have African paintings and sculptures on display, but it will also boast a dance theater, auditorium, and banquet hall.
“There are great things in Miami Gardens “Ighodaru continued, “things like dance and the arts. We must invest in talent.”
The City of Miami Gardens is one of the most culturally diverse communities in Miami-Dade county, Councilman Ighodaro hopes to capitalize on this dynamic not only for the AMAC museum and concert, but for other events in the community moving forward. “We’re not a melting pot” Ighodaro said “We’re a salad bowl; we’re all mixed here together, but we keep our identity intact.”