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Here’s a list of Black History Month events happening at Victoria’s ISSAMBA Centre

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Join together to celebrate and honour Black History Month this February!

Exploring the events happening in and around Victoria is a wonderful way to support the community as well as learn more about Black history and culture.

The ISSAMBA Centre, in the African Arts and Culture Community Contributor Society’s house (AACCCS), is inviting everyone to help them in commemorating Black History Month by participating in their list of exciting events happening throughout the month!

For this year’s Black History Month theme, ISSAMBA has decided upon, “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build.”

Which, as described in a media release, “celebrates the rich past and present contributions and accomplishments of Black people in Canada while aspiring to embrace new opportunities for the future.”

So, throughout the month of February and into early March, they’ll be offering a multitude of opportunities that you can check out and get involved in—from a workshop with a renowned Balafon player Mamadou Diabate, to discussion forums, or to a Black entrepreneur expo, there will be something for you!

Victoria Buzz had the opportunity to speak with Pulchérie Mboussi, Founder and Executive Director at AACCCS-ISSAMBA Centre, who provided the inside scoop on all of the upcoming events. 

This includes a second forum discussion on Community Immunity Awareness after a successful first discussion on February 3rd—discussions that encourage others to voice concerns and provide suggestions for enhancing government services through the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD).

“We’ve been working on the [IDPAD] for years now, and health is a priority topic for raising awareness,” Mboussi said.

“We work to bring some recommendations to the government, so we always have conversations about it.”

Having it online for the second conversation allows for more Black voices across BC, which Mboussi underlined is very important for representation and the push for progress.

The second discussion will be held online on Saturday, February 10th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and you can RSVP for that here

The following weekend, on February Saturday, February 17th and Sunday, February 18th, Mayfair Mall will host the inaugural Vancouver Island Black Entrepreneurs & Business Expo (VIBEBE) organized by ISSAMBA from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mboussi hopes to reach 16 to 20 different booths to cover as much ground as possible and give visitors a well-rounded cultural experience and provide opportunities to chat with professionals and artists with unique goods. 

“It’s to bring light to the Black entrepreneurs here on the island…and the mainland,” Mboussi said.

“So far, we have someone doing African and Caribbean spices, a fashion designer, someone offering braiding, a professional accountant and another person in finance.”

There will even be entrepreneurs from across Canada too—for example, Mboussi is thrilled to welcome a Black entrepreneur based in Montreal who excels in making handbags.

Mboussi is also in the process of setting up some African snacks too for people to try while they browse—stay tuned for that!

If you’re a Black entrepreneur and are interested in having your work or profession present at this event, applications are still open here.

Saturday, February 24th calls for an extra special treat for those who wish to get involved!

ISSAMBA will be bringing in renowned Balafon player Mamadou Diabate for an incredible full day of learning and music in two separate sessions. 

The first workshop titled, Mamadou Diabate’s Lab Workshop & Artist BootCamp: Exploring the Balafon’s Melodic Language will be offered to adults from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and this will be followed by a SANKOFA Moments for Youth workshop from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We have 25 to 30 Balafons…they’ll workshop with Mamadou and then play with him.”

Both of these events will be held at the Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre located at 1709 Blanshard Street and aims to educate youth about African culture and give them an authentic African musical experience through cultural performances and workshops.

There are limited spaces available for the workshops, so make sure you sign up sooner rather than later!

(Mamadou Diabate, SANKOFA Moments for Youth poster)

The month’s grand finale will include a special performance from Diabate himself with Percussion Mania on Saturday, March 2nd at 7 p.m. at the Victoria Event Centre!

“We want people to experience an African traditional rhythm in a modern way and we know people love it [when they come],” Mboussi said.

Tickets for this can be purchased here!

Additionally, the ISSAMBA Centre started an incredible program called the Black Author Book Boxes for schools—created by Mboussi herself, there are separate boxes for grades one to seven that contain 20 books written by Black authors. 

Schools will request these boxes and present them to students, who will get the chance to read more about Black perspectives and learn more about their history and culture. 

Mboussi has placed little prizes in the boxes too, so students can reward themselves for accomplishing reading goals. 

“Especially throughout the month of February, people would approach us saying ‘we don’t know which books to read’ or ‘we are looking for books’ so we created [the program].”

To learn more about this program or have your school’s name added to the list, you can email issambacentre@gmail.com

“[These events are] an opportunity to come together and to mingle with other communities, and it’s not just for Black communities, it’s open to everybody. It’s calling everyone to come and learn what Black people are doing and have been doing.”

Mboussi hopes to see as many people participate as possible, and says that it will provide a unique opportunity to try African food, listen to African music, and learn about different accomplishments and initiatives within the Black communities on the island.

The perfect way to get involved and honour Black History Month and beyond!

Black History Month: AACCCS-ISSAMBA Centre

  • Where:
    • Forum discussion: online
    • Vancouver Island Black Entrepreneurs & Business Expo: Mayfair Mall, 3147 Douglas Street
    • Mamadou Diabate workshops: Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre, 1709 Blanshard Street 
    • Mamadou Diabate with Percussion Mania: Victoria Event Centre, 415 Broad Street
  • When:
    • Forum discussion: Saturday, February 10th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Vancouver Island Black Entrepreneurs & Business Expo: Saturday, February 17th and Sunday, February 18th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Mamadou Diabate workshops: Saturday, February 24th
      • Adults: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
      • Youth: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    • Mamadou Diabate with Percussion Mania: Saturday, March 2nd from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

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