Pulcherie Mboussi has organized AfriCa Fest in Victoria for nine years now and she knows representing a continent of 54 countries is no easy task.
Mboussi moved from Cameroon to Canada 33 years ago, the last 12 of which were in Victoria, and is as passionate about AfriCa Fest as ever because it’s where she finds inner sanctity and hopes others do, too.
“I want to create this space that’s where I’m myself. A space for me to feel at home, right?”
Mboussi is also the founder and CEO of the African Art & Cultural Community Contributor CCC Inc. and the founder/executive director of ISAAMBA Centre. It’s almost impossible to be involved in any kind of African event or venue in Victoria without knowing Mboussi’s name.
She said she creates events to bring the African community together.
“I feel like other newcomers from Africa they feel the same way, so my goal since I’ve been here is to create a space, make room for people to feel like they are home where they are now. I know where I’m from, food, music, dance brings people together so I created this event.”
Mboussi said that there are fewer than 10 African countries represented in Victoria: she mentions knowing organized groups of Nigerians, Kenyans, Rwandans, Sudanese, Somalians and Cameroonians – like herself. The festival brings these communities together and brings others in.
“AfriCa Fest is about community, living, sharing our heritage from African communities, so we are creating a space where people can come and learn more about us. We know people, when they talk about black people or Africans, they usually think of four or five countries and we are like 54 countries, over 3,000 ethnic groups. It’s a chance to discover.”
|Volunteers at AfriCa Fest. (Photosure)|
Mboussi herself is from Cameroon, which she said has almost 300 tribes.
“I know about five, less than 10 Cameroonians in Victoria and we are all from different tribes so it’s this kind of thing that we want to raise awareness on. People think that because you met one Cameroonian, automatically we all behave the same – not so.”
Part of the cultural celebration this year will include a drum workshop, Latin dancers, Zumba dance, food and educational components. And this year, the organization is trying to draw in crowds from out of province to add more diversity.
“My mandate this year was to raise awareness in the festival outside of the province and creating a structure, even if they are in another province, they can plan to come down,” she said.
She’s hoping for more moments like what happened last year when some Sudanese attendees and a woman from Egypt jumped up on stage and played music. The festival has that type of free-flowing, open-to-all energy.
“It’s just bringing people out,” she said.
This year, Tamikrest, a band founded in Mali that mixes rock and pop with traditional African music, will be the only artist coming from out of the province, as Mboussi said “we wanted to give opportunity to local groups and local artists.”
“Our mandate is to showcase African culture, rhythm in a modern way and Tamikrest is another way to discover [that].”
AfriCa Fest takes place May 26-28 at Centennial Square in Victoria and admission is free. Visit issambacentre.ca/africafest for more details.
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