Passport to Africa
By Paul Ndiho
May 20, 2011
Africa is a dynamic continent with diverse peoples, rhythms, vibrant activity, sensual spices and an immensely rich culture. A festival showcasing African culture begins Friday (5/20) here at Washington’s National Museum of Africa Art.
Passport Africa is growing in stature every year, celebrating positive attributes of Africa that are rarely portrayed in mainstream media. This year, I Dream of Africa Entertainment, or IDOA, is putting together African-fused events in the Washington metro area. Seaward Cooper, originally from Liberia, is one of the organizers.
“Passport to Africa is a great celebration of African culture. If you are intrigued about the different things that Africans doing in the United States, especially in the DC Metropolitan area, and you want to take advantage of that, it would be a good way for you to come and try some Kenyan food, Liberian food, Ghanaian food, try wines from different places in South Africa, that you may have never heard of, but this is just to introduce people to Africa. I think it’s a great celebration.”
When Passport to Africa started, its goal was to reach out to young Africa professionals, but now it also promotes African business. The weeklong festival is dedicated to vendors selling everything from original African clothing, to artifacts and colorful handcrafted jewelry from West Africa.
“This gives local artisans an opportunity to showcase what they’ve been working on and also gives people an opportunity to buy things they might not have come across before, you know, things that you aren’t going to find in your local mall or shops but these designers are here.”
Over the years, Passport Africa has grown to a vast audience and people from different demographics are attracted to the event. Mr. Cooper says the week culminates with Washington’s largest white so-called “white party” at a local nightclub.
“What the white party is… is that people come dressed in white and it’s put together by IDOA Entertainment and BCBG Productions. This is the 6th year we’ve done this party and it is a great dance party. We have Africans come from all over the country for this, people as far as Canada and Europe, and it’s a great event. The music is African-themed throughout the whole night, a great classy crowd and it’s just a fun time, a good way to start the summer.”
Fans of Passport to Africa say they feel that there is a need to expose Americans to African culture. And they say that if Americans experience that culture, maybe they might develop an interest in going to Africa, or giving to help the continen