On the last weekend in August, I co-hosted the fundraising gala for the African Museum of Arts and Culture (AMAC) in Miami Gardens. Spearheaded by the Nigerian American Foundation, the museum project will develop a building and complex where African art and artefacts will be displayed, with lecture rooms, a dance theater and a banquet hall, all to promote our collective African heritage.
There were over 100 guests in attendance at the event, some dressed in native regalia with fabulously ornate headpieces as wide as two people. Throughout the course of the evening, outstanding contributors to the African and African-American communities were honored, food was served, and the effort to raise $5 million for the development of the AMAC was begun.
One of the interesting facts that came to light was that though there are about 2.4 million people living in Miami-Dade County, and about the same number in Paris, France, there are only around 20 museums in Miami as opposed to over 230 in Paris. Museums are the institutions that gather, hold and teach our history. They connect us with our past and ensure that our future selves don’t forget where we are today.
This museum in particular is meant to connect with the entire African diaspora, a mission I felt personally connected to after experiencing the powerful sense of belonging inside the Nine O’ One Banquet Hall that night.
Earlier that day, as I stood inside of Kulture Klothes being fitted for my first ever African ensemble, surrounded by Nigerian fabrics and imagery, I struggled within myself. Since I was not a daughter of African soil would I be seen as disingenuous in these garments that made me feel like a queen? No. My Nigerian co-host Desmond Alufohai informed me that in the eyes of the African community, all black people are African. That put my heart at ease.
Simply donning traditional fabrics and spending an evening with our African family has made me feel more connected with this community. We can all take comfort in being able to connect with our roots in Miami Gardens once the AMAC is complete.
Calibe Thompson is the Executive Producer of the “Taste the Islands” cooking series, now airing nationwide on public television stations and Create TV (www.createtv.com for details). Learn more about her at www.calibe.net.