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Amsterdam’s Kwaku Festival is one of the most exciting times in the city and is known as a summer staple. Held every year in Nelson Mandela park, it is held for consecutive weekends throughout the summer.

It’s marketed as a “multicultural fun event” that takes place in the Zuidoost community where fest-goers enjoy live music, dance, sports, and more. But the real reason why people come together is to celebrate the abolition of slavery in the Dutch Antilles and Suriname in 1863.

The thousands of people who worked on the plantations in the Dutch West Indies were finally released. The Dutch were reportedly among the last to abolish slavery, after Denmark in 1803, Britain in 1834, and France in 1848.

Kwaku Festival History

The Kwaku Summer Festival is one of the biggest and most popular festivals in Amsterdam, attracting around 300,000 visitors each year.

The festival (formerly Kwakoe) originally began as a small soccer tournament for youth, primarily those of Surinamese descent, in the Southeast neighborhood of Amsterdam, who could not go on a summer vacation.

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Soon after, it became a big deal attracting soccer teams from all over the Netherlands, and became a tournament that not only fostered sportsmanship but community as players would share food.

In 1983, the event became a full-blown festival celebrating Surinamese culture.

“Under the inspiring leadership of Winston Kout, Kwakoe grew in the 1990s into the current mega happening that has become an integral part of the annual festive calendar,” the event’s website reads.

Kwaku Festival has become a beloved and lively celebration of art, food, sports, and culture, that now includes a diverse mix of ethnicities and backgrounds.

There are hundreds of vendors where fest-goers can indulge in the flavors of Suriname, Caribbean, African, and Creole cultures.

The Kwaku Festival program changes each year but what remains consistent are the concert stages, Caribbean market, and one of the most beloved events: the soccer tournament. Amateur teams of all ages compete against each other for the Kwaku Cup.

Food certainly does play a huge part and is a key draw of the festival. Its street vendors are legendary and offer a huge variety of cuisines from

African food, to Surinamese, and Middle Eastern food to name but a few. Many of the street vendors offer their delicious dishes exclusively for the festival so don’t miss out!

 

Source: Travel Noire

Calling all food enthusiasts, especially those who love learning about the impact Black and African food ways made on the cuisine in the United States. Netflix will soon release a new 4-part docuseries, High on the Hog, celebrating and highlighting the culinary contributions of Black and African people, and how we shaped American cuisine as a whole.

The series, set to release May 26, is hosted by popular Black food writer Stephan Satterfield who takes viewers on a multi-continent journey of how our food traditions actually reached the United States, and how some cities are still holding on to said traditions.

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According to a press release, the series takes viewers on a culinary journey that ventures from Africa to the deep south. The immersive four-episode docu-series  part culinary show, part travelogue  follows food writer Stephen Satterfield as he meets the chefs, historians, and activists who are keeping centuries-old traditions alive. Over Western African stews, soul food, barbecue, and fine dining, the series, directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, reveals an expansive, eclectic culinary history shaped by slavery, the Civil War, Juneteenth, and present day. It’s a story of Black America’s resilience, enduring creativity, and vital contribution to America’s kitchen.

“It’s the story of Black people in America. It all feels very much part of the racial reckoning going on in America and the world right now. Reclaiming our contribution to this country is also about reclaiming our culinary contribution. Because what is food? It brings people together,” Director Roger Ross Williams said.

An adaption of the book penned by food historian Dr. Jessica B. Harris, each episode of High On The Hog travels to destinations like Benin and Charleston, South Carolina, while unpacking the deep connection of enslavement and the way in which we as Black/African Americans eat— ultimately laying out the map of how certain culinary customs appeared in US culture.

“It’s bringing context to food history and the resilience, artistry, and impact that African Americans have had on the American kitchen. Food is a great connector, the more that people can come together and break bread, the more we can celebrate our commonalities as opposed to our differences’ Executive Producer Adrienne Tobak said in a statement.

Watch the trailer below:

 

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans

Who started Black History Month?

Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History,” developed Black History Month. Woodson, whose parents were enslaved, was an author, historian and the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

He recognized that the American education system offered very little information about the accomplishments of African Americans and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

In 1926, Woodson proposed a national “Negro History Week,” which was intended to showcase everything students learned about Black history throughout the school year, King said.

It wasn’t until 1976, during the height of the civil rights movement, that President Gerald  Ford expanded the week into Black History Month

Why is Black History Month in February?

Woodson chose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a famed abolitionist who escaped from slavery, and President Abraham Lincoln, who formally abolished slavery.

Feb. 1 is National Freedom Day, the anniversary of the approval of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865. Richard Wright, who was enslaved and became a civil rights advocate and author, lobbied for the celebration of the day, CNN reported, citing the National Constitution Center.

Although the day is not a federal holiday, President Harry Truman recognized National Freedom Day in 1949 and urged citizens to pause to contemplate its significance

Why is Black History Month important?

Woodson believed it was essential for young African Americans to understand and be proud of their heritage.

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history,” he said.

Before the country can move past racial harm, there needs to be “truth, then accountability and then maybe reconciliation,” said Dionne Grayman, who trains schools to have difficult conversations about race.

Failing to understand the history of race and racism and a strong desire to overlook the worst aspects of racist violence in the United States has fueled resentment toward civil rights activism, said Dan Hirschman, an assistant professor of sociology at Brown University in Rhode Island.

That resentment is cultivated by groups including right-wing media and white supremacists, he said.

For example, Hirschman said he sees calls to move past the storming of the Capitol last month. He warned that achieving racial progress, such as electing Joe Biden as president, can trigger an immense backlash.

“We have to sort of assume that’s going to happen and try to work to make sure it doesn’t,” he said.

Hirschman said the outpouring of support, particularly from white Democrats, for the Black Lives Matter movement during the nationwide racial justice protests in the wake of Floyd’s death was a positive step toward recognizing more enduring forms of structural racism.

Like the protests, Black History Month provides an opportunity to center the curriculum and broader public conversation on these issues, but it shouldn’t be the only moment to do so, Hirschman said.

“It can’t do all the work,” he said.

Here’s how to celebrate Black History Month

The theme of Black History Month 2021 is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Many institutions, including the ASAALH and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, offer digital programming for those celebrating at home.

The NAACP offers guidance for businesses on the best way to honor Black History Month.

King suggested blackpast.orgBlack History 101 Mobile Museum and the books “A Black Women’s History of the United States” and “From Slavery to Freedom” as resources for those looking to learn more about Black history.

King emphasized that educators should “teach Black history from Black perspectives.” He offered seven guiding principles for educators to explore when teaching Black history:

  • Power, oppression and racism
  • Black agency, perseverance and resistance
  • Africa and the African diaspora
  • Black joy and Black love
  • Black identities – other than heterosexual, Christian, middle-class Black men
  • Black historical contention and the problematic aspects of Black history
  • Black excellence

One area to focus on is getting “an accurate understanding of Reconstruction,” the period after the Civil War, to help Americans better understand “contemporary forms of racialized violence like mass incarceration,” Hirschman said.

He said it’s important to recognize the many ways racism is baked into America’s foundational systems.

Black History and Culture Recognized as Strong Drivers for Tourism

“It’s definitely deeply worked into the structure of the country,” he said.

Grayman, a staff developer at Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility in New York City, said teaching Black history should go beyond the month of February. A former English teacher, she suggested including more Black authors such as James Baldwin into the literary canon.

“The historical contributions of Black people need to be integrated into the curriculum,” Grayman said.

 

A new survey from Mandela Research shows that African American history and culture are strong motivators for travel.

The study was conducted on behalf of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor using the states that make up the corridor: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Findings in the report were based on a national market survey of 1,000 U.S. leisure travelers, focusing on the Gullah Geechee community members and tourism officials.

At least a quarter of all travelers (24%) expressed a strong interest in visiting sites in the South that are of historical significance to African Americans.

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The report valued potential leisure-travel spend among the four states analyzed at $34 Billion.

Overall, the relative importance of African American culture in choosing a destination is high, with 36% of all travelers ranking it either “very important” or “somewhat important.”

The report also sheds light on the most desired cultural experiences. “Experiencing local cuisine” was cited by 65% of the travelers surveyed, setting the stage for more investment in educating Americans about traditional Gullah Geechee foodways and creating more cross-cultural culinary experiences around Gullah Geechee restaurants, farms, and chefs.

“I introduced the legislation creating this National Heritage Area to help preserve this important culture and create heritage sites that could become touchstones for attracting tourists,” said House Majority Whip Leader Congressman James Clyburn, representing South Carolina.