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Sam Juru, Executive Director Africa Centre

Reflecting on Africa Day Gala

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Sterling Scott at the Africa Day Gala
Sterling Scott at the Africa Day Gala

Outgoing Board Chair, Kemoh Mansaray

Reflecting on the Africa Day Gala at the Expo Centre

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Africa Day Gala at the Expo Centre, a vibrant celebration of the diverse cultures and rich heritage of the African continent. This annual event brought together communities from across Edmonton, honouring Africa’s unity and progress through music, dance, art, and cuisine.

It was an Evening of Elegance and Culture. It seemed that everyone was there or was represented in the 450 people of African descent who showed up. The first hour was for networking and wine, which worked well as it allowed us to mingle freely with the distinguished crowd of Africans.

Ivan Toukor, one of the founders of La Connextionnel, was there to lead the Afrobeat/Afrofusion dance at the start and end of the event. As always, Ivan did not disappoint. The moves were truly stunning, showcasing both traditional and contemporary African music and dance. The captivating rhythms and vibrant melodies filled the air, creating an electric atmosphere celebrating the continent’s diversity.

Levar Saul, his wife and Miss Purple

The Africa Day Gala was more than just a cultural celebration—it marked a significant milestone with the Africa Centre’s budget reaching $10 million.  It was important to learn that  community engagement complete and the business plan finalized, the proposed Africa Multicultural Community Centre is ready for presentation to the Edmonton City Council.

Oromo Coffee Ceremony was also in attendance

This centre promises to be a vibrant hub for events, culture, sports, entrepreneurship, and more. In his gala speech, departing  Board Chair Kemoh Mansaray urged community members to support this initiative, emphasizing its potential benefits.

We also learned that the Africa Centre’s website will now be available in French, expanding accessibility for Francophone communities. Fund development is a key focus, with a newly appointed Fund Development Manager to diversify funding sources beyond government grants.

The new Executive Director, Sam Juru, has been busy. Their budget has increased from $7 million to $10 million annually. With two of Africa Centre’s core directors and Board members departing to other organizations, the next year is truly crucial as it could make or break the Centre.

I indulged in a culinary journey, savoring authentic African dishes, including spicy stews, grilled meats, and delectable desserts. Each bite offered a true taste of Africa, adding to the evening’s richness.

The very lovely Odion Welch

The gala was more than just an event; it was a platform for cultural exchange and community building.  The photos showed a happy Miss Purple mingling and clearly delighted, making it my personal best Africa Day Gala in a while!


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