Spoken word performer Yao Afoh Lydia received the Sowing Seeds award as the person in Broward County who best exemplifies the principles of Kwanzaa.

Lydia, son of the late activist Kwame Afoh, was given the honor during  “A Celebration of Kwanzaa 2011” which took place Dec. 28 at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC), 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.

The annual celebration honors African-American heritage and culture, with a focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement.

Lydia, 18, who performed during the event, saw the award as a tribute to his father. “He took on causes by himself and never did it for any award or recognition,” he said.

The event was among several held in the tri-county area during the Kwanzaa observance. They included “A Kwanzaa Experience” held Dec. 29 at the Joseph Caleb Auditorium in Miami’s Liberty City community, hosted by The Diaspora Arts Coalition, and an informational gathering on Friday at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Delray Beach, hosted by the Spady Museum and the Delray Beach Chapter of Zeta Beta Sorority.

In Broward County, this was the first year for the Sowing the Seeds award, created to honor the person or organization representing one or more of the principles of Kwanzaa, according to the program organizer and emcee Alana DaCosta.

She presented Lydia with the award, saying his father had been “a very special person” who had been “instrumental in really bringing Kwanzaa to Broward.”

The all-day event was sponsored by the Friends of AARLCC and drew about 300 people, according to Desmonde Hannibal, AARLCC program director. 

“Our annual Kwanzaa celebration is usually funded through grants from the Library Foundation but, because of the budgets, monies were limited this year,” he said.

Afoh, who came to Fort Lauderdale in 1994, was involved in causes such as equality in the distribution of school resources, anti-war efforts and Black Nationalism. He headed the Pan Afrikan Nationalists of South Florida until his death in 2010.

“He always taught me about who I am and let me know I could be anything I wanted to be,” said Lydia, a freshman at Florida A&M University. “A great motivator, he was the one who pushed me to go to college. And winning the award means I need to rise above my potential, get things done.”

Lydia, a broadcast journalism major, has plans to start his own media company. “My father was an advocate for black unity, ownership and education,” he said. “A black-owned media company is something we as a people don’t really have. But we need a vehicle that could get our voices heard, our talents recognized.”

Kesha Davis of Lauderhill was happy to see “such a large, diverse crowd” at the celebration. “I was also pleased to see so many families as well as vendors participate,” she said

Davis said Afoh has cared about educating black youth and about black businesses and had been a strong advocate for black ownership. He was well known in the community, she said, and “he made certain that business owners were aware of opportunities and workshops to help them grow.”

The celebration also featured performances by other spoken word artists Aziza Israel, Empress Addi and RaRa Rock, Nzingah, Jashua Sa’Ra, Chunky, Nzingah and Spit Fiya Poets; singer Zakai Pastor; steel pan player George Goddard; and dance troupes Venus Rising and Children of Kuumba.

Earlier in the day, business seminars, arts and craft and percussion workshops took place.

“It was a fantastic family event,” said Israel Mbebe of Lauderhill. “It was wonderful attending something not only family-friendly but in support of our people, something educational.”

Cynthia Roby maybe reached at Cynthia Roby@bellsouth.net


ARTIST HONORED: Spoken word artist Yao Afoh Lydia  was presented with the  Sowing Seeds award Dec. 28 during “A Celebration of Kwanzaa 2011” at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale.