To celebrate Black History Month, Harbourfront Centre will once again host Kuumba, a celebration of African-Canadian heritage and culture. This year, the 16th annual festival runs from February 3rd to 5th. Kuumba features performances, workshops, discussions and family-oriented activities spanning music, dance, film, comedy, fashion and visual arts.
One of Kuumba’s biggest names for 2012 is reggae producer and dub pioneer, Clive Chin, who has worked with musicians such as The Wailers, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Black Uhuru, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Dennis Brown. In commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, Chin will lead a DJ workshop on the history of Jamaican music in an event called ‘VP Records/17 North Parade Celebrates 50 years of Jamaican Music’, which will take place on February 4, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Lakeside Terrace. Die-hard Chin fans can stick around after the event, as Chin will be signing copies of the 1973 album, Java Java Dub.
On Friday, February 3, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Brigantine Room, “Honey Jam – Then and Now” will celebrate Canada’s longest-running talent showcase. The reunion concert and photo exhibit will be hosted by Michie Mee and feature music, dance and spoken word performances by alumni of the historic all-female Honey Jam including Jemeni, Belinda Brady, Kellylee Evans, Kim Davis, Eternia, Natasha Waterman and Saidah Baba Talibah.
Catering to the younger crowd, ‘Known (Un)Known’ is an event promoting local urban artists including Rochelle Jordan, Shi Wisdom, 88 Days of Fortune, KJ, MC Spek Won and Abstract Random. The showcase is hosted by former MTV personality, Tika Simone, and will provide a platform for up-and-coming musicians – and their fans – to celebrate what Toronto has to offer when it comes to hip hop and R&B. ‘Known (Un)Known’ will take place on Saturday, February 4, from 9:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. in the Brigantine Room.
Many of the events will touch on socio-political topics, like the People Everywhere Actually Co-existing Equally (P.E.A.C.E.) workshop on Sunday, February 5, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Lakeside Terrace, which will raise awareness on how action can affect our communities. On the same day, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Studio Theatre, a panel discussion called ‘Identify and Address’ will explore Black women and leadership with The Congress of Black Women of Canada. In a similar vein, Kuumba will be screening The Colour of Beauty, which is a 16-minute documentary that explores racism in the fashion industry. The film is part of the ‘Fashion Blackout’ event, held on Saturday, February 4, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Brigantine Room.
Kuumba will also offer full-length films, documentaries and short films, most of them divided under the following themes: Celebrating the Cinematography of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, Celebrating Black Canadian Filmmakers and Celebrating Black Filmmakers.
For the kids, there’s African storytelling led by Itah Sadu, which will take place on both Saturday, February 4, and Sunday, February 5, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Miss Lou’s Room. Oware, which is an ancient Egyptian board game that’s still popular, will be taught on Saturday, February 4, and Sunday, February 5, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Miss Lou’s Room.
Let the kids put the videogames down and jump in on this traditional African pastime – or alternatively, let them just watch. Finally, Alpha Rhythm Roots will be hosting a family-friendly drumming workshop based on the music of Guinea. Look for that on Sunday, February 5, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Lakeside Terrace.
With a breadth of events from which to choose, Harbourfront Centre’s Kuumba will be an inter-generational celebration of African-Canadian culture. This year, the jam-packed program offers something for everyone.
For more information and full event listings, visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/kuumba.