Black History Month Closing Event, Saturday 28th February, 2009

For the finale of the Black History Month in Berlin series the atmosphere at the Amerika Haus in Berlin was buzzing from the moment the doors opened on Saturday, 28th February.

Following six weeks of informative and entertaining events, the closing event was a celebration of the cultural influence of the African Diaspora in Germany, and offered a packed programme of music, poetry, dance, and dynamic performances. Before the main show began in the auditorium, visitors were treated to a sneak preview of the upcoming feature film ‘Hit em Up’ (2009, 90 min), written by Elvis N. Ololo and directed by Antony Baggette, who later on in the evening took to the stage as a poet.

Following the screening guests proceeded into the auditorium for a programme entitled ‘Diversity Is Our Strength’, staged by the Clear Blue Water e.V, the Urban Art Ensemble, Joinarts, and StreetUniverCity Berlin. The show included poetry by Triston, Anthony Baggette and Merly Prettyman, some acoustic and some accompanied by percussion in a variety of forms, from Zam Johnson on his sampler pad to renowned percussionist Souleymane Touré. There were dance performances from the Serdar Dance Company to German language rap music, along with live rap performances from promising young artists Dr. Rob and Battlerap amongst others. Anthony Baggette also performed a series of jazz-rap crossover pieces with dancers providing a visual backdrop to the lyrics.
There followed a short intermission in which the guests made their way into the foyer to gather refreshments, sample some of the ‘Caribbean Soul Food’ provided by the Ya-Man Restaurant, and, most importantly, to watch the Cultural Diplomat Awards ceremony hosted by ICD Director Mark Donfried, Anthony Baggette, and “Detroit” Gary Wiggins. Awards were given to film director Darnell Stephen Summers, musician Souleymane Touré, and Cornelius Robinson, a true Elder of the African Diaspora in Berlin, for their respective contributions in supporting and strengthening the activities of the African Diaspora in Germany.

The second half of the evening continued with more vibrant performances from the music and poetry collective, and the auditorium was packed with newly found fans from the set before the break. The group received a standing ovation and then handed the stage over to Souleymane Touré and Academy Percussion. The African music was a hit with the audience, and few remained seated as the professional musicians put on a spectacular show. Once the concert came to a reluctant end, the festivities continued in the foyer with DJ Daddy’O, who provided a soundtrack for the true party animals of the evening!

Throughout the evening, guests also had the opportunity to view and buy works in the ‘Reflections of Africa’ exhibition in the foyer and on the first floor of the Amerika Haus. For the duration of Black History Month only, talented artists Adom Tetteh, Amadou Diallo, Chandra Brooks, Khalifa Drame, and Emmanuel Eni displayed pieces that illustrate the richness and diversity of objects produced by contemporary African artists and members of the African Diaspora.