Post by Evelyn Owen
It’s no secret that you can find the whole world in New York, but you might be surprised to learn just how diverse the city is.
There are about eight and a half million New Yorkers, and over a third of them were born outside the United States! Over 200 languages are spoken here, and half of the city’s residents speak a language other than English at home.
Every year, New Yorkers revel in this extraordinary diversity with a week-long celebration of immigrant heritage. This year’s theme, “Immigrants are NY: Upholding our Values,” recognizes the defining and positive role of immigration in shaping New York’s past, present, and future. It begins on April 17th, a nod to the fact that back in 1907, this day saw more immigrants enter the U.S. through Ellis Island than any other day in history.
There are some Africa-related events that we’re excited to share below, and you can check out the full brochure here for programs highlighting heritage globally from Poland to Puerto Rico and beyond!
Monday, April 17
Join the Harry Belafonte 115th Street Branch of the NYPL for an afternoon celebration of African immigrants, including a tour of the Library, a screening of the film Queen of Katwe, and a community discussion of topics relevant to the contemporary African immigrant experience in NYC.
Saturday, April 22
Her Portmanteau at 4pm | Free panel discussion at 5:45pm | Sojourners at 7pm
79 East 4th Street
Plays: normally $25 each, but with code “TAC” you can get 2 for the price of 1! | Panel discussion: free
Sojourners and Her Portmanteau are two chapters of a nine-part saga by playwright Mfoniso Udofia, following the triumphs and losses of the tenacious matriarch of a Nigerian family. Both plays will be performed on April 22, Her Portmanteau at 4pm and Sojourners at 7pm, with a free public panel discussion in between featuring Udofia along with Zeinab Eyega, Executive Director, Sauti Yetu and Bitta Mostofi, Assistant Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs .
Performed in repertory, these two heartrending plays uncover the ties that bind mothers and daughters and how we define home. In Sojourners a young, pregnant Abasiama Ekpeyoung struggles with the responsibilities of her arranged marriage as her husband, Ukpong, becomes seduced by 1970s American culture. Intent on finishing her university studies so that she can return to Nigeria, Abasiama weighs her dreams and obligations as she attempts to move forward. Decades later, the full impact of her decision erupts when Abasiama’s family is reunited in Her Portmanteau. As Nigerian traditions clash with the realities of American life, Abasiama and her daughters, Iniabasi and Adiagha, confront complex familial legacies that span time, geography, language and culture.