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12th Annual MAAFA Commemoration: Coming Together for a Healing through Art and Culture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact:

Viola T. Johnson, Communications/PR
Ashé Cultural Arts Center
(504) 813-9008

12th ANNUAL MAAFA COMMEMORATION:
Coming Together for a Healing through Art and Culture

NEW ORLEANS - Ashé Cultural Arts Center presents the 12th Annual Maafa Commemoration on Saturday, July 7, 2012, at 6:30 a.m., at Congo Square in Armstrong Park.

Maafa is a Kiswahili word that means "great tragedy" or "horrific tragedy," referring to the period called the Middle Passage or Transatlantic Slave Trade. During that time, millions of captives from Africa were brought to the Americas where they were used as a labor force, persecuted, beaten, and many, separated from their families forever.

We are collectively coming together for a healing through art and culture.

At sunrise, on July 7, 2012, hundreds of people attired in white clothing will gather to pay tribute to African ancestors who died during the Middle Passage.

The Maafa Commemoration offers an opportunity for the whole community to pause and reflect on this great transgression against humanity and to personally, as a community, agree to distance ourselves institutionally in word and deed from that transgression, its legacy and the evolved practice of racism in our civic, social, spiritual and personal lives.

In the year 2000, Ashé Cultural Arts Center's founders Carol Bebelle and Douglas Redd, engaged by Leia Lewis who coordinated the first Maafa celebration, joined with other similar celebrations around the country. The vision for the Maafa Commemoration continues to grow. It was influenced by the work of St. Paul Baptist Church in Brooklyn, which was then led by New Orleans-born Rev. Johnnie Ray Youngblood, where annually a month-long series of activities form the Maafa remembrance.

This year, drummers and musicians from New Orleans and other cities around the United States, will lead a procession from Congo Square through historic Tremé, with a brief stop at St. Augustine Catholic Church, the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Slave. From there, the procession continues through the French Quarter, with pauses at Café Maspero and the Royal Orleans Hotel, where slave auctions regularly took place and slave masters transacted business.

Then, aboard the Canal Street Ferry, amid high spirits, drumming, dancing, singing and praying, ancestors will be honored by name-not just those affected by the Transatlantic Slave Trade, but also individuals who were victims of such events as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the levee breaches and senseless violence.

Upon exiting the Canal Street Ferry in Algiers, the Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indian Gang will greet the procession and lead members into The Village at King's Plantation in Algiers Point. This historic African village on the west bank of the Mississippi River, once owned by the Company of the Indies in 1700s, was a site where enslaved Africans, fresh off slave ships, were held until they were sold at auction.

The Maafa Commemoration continues with breakfast and entertainment at 11:00 a.m. at Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in New Orleans. For the first time ever, Ashé will connect, via the Internet, with La MaMa Experimental Theater Club, one of CultureHub's four telepresence studios, for a live video performance spotlighting youth both in New Orleans and New York, ages 17-24.

The Maafa event includes a health fair, offering eye screenings by the Uptown Lions Club; head and neck cancer screenings by the New Orleans Musicians Clinic; and general health screenings done by St. Anna's Episcopal Mobile Health Center. In addition, Kids Play NOLA will showcase their work as they present their show entitled "Healthy Eating." The Treme Brass Band will tie it all together with secondline music.

PRELUDE TO THE MAAFA

Moroccan Carpet Weavers Presentation and Reception

June 28, 2012; 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

(504) 569-9070

Free and open to the public.

Moroccan carpet weavers will do a presentation on their weaving methods based on Amazigh culture and traditions. New Orleans is the first stop on a 4-city North American tour. Their hand-made carpets, which are incredible works of art, will be exhibited and are for sale. Participants in the week-long weaving workshops will show off their own work. The public is invited to join and sip fresh mint tea, Moroccan style.

Healing Force - A Concert and Live Recording Event

June 29, 2012, 7:00 p.m. at Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

(504) 569-9070

Admission $20

Featuring Hamid Drake, Edward "Kidd" Jordan, Germaine Bazzle, William Parker, Rev. Lois Dejean & The Johnson Extension, Carol Bebelle, Michaela Harrison, Monica McIntyre, Frederick "Hollywood" Delahoussaye, Kora Konnection featuring Moreikeba Kouyate & Thierno Dioubate. Hosted by Kalamu ya Salaam.

Celebration of the Drum - A Concert

June 30, 2012, 7:00 p.m. at Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

(504) 569-9070

Admission $20

Experience the healing drums from around the world. The concert features Africa - Clark Richardson, Colin Richardson; American Indian/Moroccan/Irish - Jeff Zielinski, Mark Cheramie; Brazil - Curtis Pierre, The Samba Man; Haiti - Damas "FanFan" Louis; India - Andrew McClain; Japan - Farhad Karim, SGI-USA Taiko Drummers; Latin America - Bill Summers; Mardi Gras Indians and Call and Response.

Community support for the Maafa includes sponsorship from Ashé Cultural Arts Center, The Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University, New Orleans Museum of Art, and The Village in Algiers (the Ovah Da River Folklife Village). The Maafa is partially funded by The Kellogg Foundation (America Healing), The Ford Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Hamid Drake is in town for a National Performance Network (NPN) artist residency with Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

ABOUT CULTURE HUB

CultureHub is an incubator for creativity focused on the intersection of art and technology. We connect artists from diverse disciplines and cultures and provide them with environments in which to collaborate, experiment and explore. We serve local and global communities by providing an open space for creative research, artistic exchange and learning. Founded in 2009 by the Seoul Institute of the Arts in Korea and La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City, CultureHub currently consists of four telepresence studios: 1. Seoul Institute of the Arts(Seoul/Korea) 2. La MaMa Experimental Theater Club (New York City/USA) 3. Calarts (Los Angeles/USA) 4.Contact Theatre (Manchester, UK)

 

For more information and a complete listing of associated activities, call (504) 569-9070 or visit http://www.ashecac.org/.

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To schedule an interview or personal appearance, call Viola T. Johnson at (504) 813-9008.

 

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