The “Home Is…” Series: World Africa Day—Juneteenth, 2021
Since 1963, countries on the African continent and across the world have celebrated May 25th as World Africa Day. Once known as African Freedom Day and as African Liberation Day, this commemoration marked the formation of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union, a body of African representatives committed to the long-term freedom and self-determination of Africa and its people. In celebration of World Africa Day 2021, and the diversity that exists among people of African descent, The Africa Center will kick off “Home Is…,” a series of three virtual programs focused on themes of home, community and belonging.
“Home Is…” will kick off on World Africa Day on May 25th and take place once a week leading up to the launch of #HomeIsHere on Juneteenth, the annual celebration that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Africans in the United States. The three programs will connect World Africa Day to Juneteenth, two celebrations that are significant to both people of African descent around the world and people of African descent in the United States. By connecting these two celebrations, we hope to reinforce the ways in which our Diasporic cultures are akin to each other through more than just geography. It’s the elements of our common practices and shared histories that are carried across time and space, and that keep us rooted in the African continent, no matter where we exist in the world.
1: Home Is Where Community Is — A celebration our global community of kinfolk
The Africa Center presents “Home Is Where Community Is” on May 25th, World Africa Day at 12PM EST on Instagram Live to celebrate our global community of kinfolk who are trailblazing culture shapers of African descent in the United States, on the African continent and around the world. The conversation will explore the long-term freedom and self-determination of Africa and its people and how that manifests in global contemporary culture with a specific focus on food, music and storytelling. The discussion will be moderated by Yolanda Sangweni, the Senior Director of Programming at NPR and will include Chef Pierre Thiam, DJ Kampire and The Africa Center’s CEO, Uzodinma Iweala. Speakers will share their understandings, definitions and questions around home, community and belonging and how that relates to their lived experiences and work across the African Diaspora. The conversation will also explore the diverse ways people of African descent are building community and connecting across the African Diaspora.
Pierre Thiam is a chef, author, and social activist best known for bringing West African cuisine to the global fine dining world. He is the Executive Chef of the award-winning restaurant Nok by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria and the Signature Chef of the five-star Pullman Hotel in Dakar, Senegal. He is also the executive chef and co-owner of Teranga, a fast-casual food chain from New York City. His company Yolélé Foods advocates for smallholder farmers in the Sahel by opening new markets for crops grown in Africa; its signature product, Yolélé Fonio, is found in Whole Foods, Amazon, and other retailers across America.
Born and raised in Dakar, Senegal, Thiam’s cooking style is at once modern and eclectic, rooted in the rich culinary traditions of West Africa. His newest cookbook, The Fonio Cookbook, was published in October 2019. His first two cookbooks, Yolélé! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal and Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl were finalists for several awards including the Julia Child Cookbook Award, the Gourmand Award in Paris, and the James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook.
Thiam has cooked for the King of Morocco, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Through his advocacy and many media appearances, he has become known as a culinary ambassador, dedicated to promoting West African cooking throughout the world. His TEDTalk, given at TEDGlobal 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania, has been viewed over one million times. Thiam sits on the board of directors of IDEO.org, SOS Sahel, Culinary Institute of America’s African Cuisines Advisory Board and CorpsAfrica. He lives in El Cerrito, California with his wife Lisa, their daughter Na’ia, and dog Malcolm.
Kampire Bahana is “a scene-leading DJ who can connect the dots between the past, present and future of African club music” (Resident Advisor). Among East Africa’s most exciting DJs and a core member of Kampala’s Nyege Nyege collective, Kampire’s vibrant bass-heavy sets have transported her to clubs & festivals across the world. One of Mixmag’s picks for Top Ten Breakthrough DJs of 2018, Kampire’s set on Boiler Room broadcast from Nyege Nyege festival was a legitimate ‘internet moment’, with thousands of shares on Facebook leading to serious FOMO from electronic music fans watching online.
Kampire’s DJ mixes have been featured on Resident Advisor, Dekmantel and Fact Magazine, which saw her chosen amongst the best mixes of 2019 on Pitchfork & Fact’s end of year lists. Her Rinse FM & NTS radio residencies have seen her shine a light on other East African DJs & artists, including Hibotep, Faizal Mostrixx & Catu Diosis.
Best friend & Nyege Nyege day one Decay will be joining her in the summer of 2021, where they will bring the best of Ugandan party culture to European festival stages with their show “Bunu Bop”. A taste of this can be seen & heard on Kampire’s Nyege Nyege opening ceremony DJ set on an island in the Nile for the digital edition of the festival, broadcast by Resident Advisor.
Kampire is a co-founder of the art installation “Salooni” which explores black hair as a science, culture, and art, the experiential project has traveled to La Ba Arts Festival, Uganda, Chale Wote Street Art Festival, Ghana, East African Soul Train (E.A.S.T) residency, Kenya, Africa Utopia, London, Kigali, Rwanda, Women’s day, Burkina Faso and N’GOLÁ Biennial, São Tomé e Príncipe
Uzodinma Iweala is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and medical doctor. As the CEO of The Africa Center, he is dedicated to promoting a new narrative about Africa and its Diaspora. Uzodinma was the CEO, Editor-In-Chief, and co-Founder of Ventures Africa magazine, a publication that covers the evolving business, policy, culture, and innovation spaces in Africa. His books include Beasts of No Nation, a novel released in 2005 to critical acclaim and adapted into a major motion picture; Our Kind of People, a non-fiction account of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria released in 2012; and Speak No Evil(2018), a novel about a queer first-generation Nigerian-American teen living in Washington, D.C. His short stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications like The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and The Paris Review among others. Uzodinma was also the founding CEO of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, an organization that promotes private sector investment in health services and health innovation in Nigeria. He sits on the boards of the Sundance Institute, The International Rescue Committee and the African Development Bank’s Presidential Youth Advisory Group. A graduate of Harvard University and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Fellow of The Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Yolanda Sangweni is a writer, digital content and podcast strategist, and culture curator. Born in South Africa, Yolanda came to the United States as an adolescent with her activist mother, a former political prisoner under the Apartheid regime. She is currently a Senior Director at National Public Radio helping drive NPR’s strategy to reach new audiences, including developing new programs and initiatives. She spent nine years working for Essence where she led the company’s multi-platform digital content strategy and prides herself on being part of the core team that brought live events like the Essence Festival South Africa and Black Women in Hollywood to life. Yolanda is also the founder of African Women Create, a collective and forthcoming newsletter highlighting African women in the creative arts.