“A Touch of Africa in Santa Cruz”, founded by Senegalese Mara Diakhate, took place in this historic beach town which has an affinity for cultural events. The event was organized by Da African Village Team in Santa Cruz which is comprised of Mara Diakhate, Dandha Da Hora, Anne Stafford, Veronica Howard Soto, Melanie Lee Godinho, Shaunte Jackson, Daffany, Abide Bebe, Laura Gilbert-Costa and Katrina Jeffries, to name a few. The Dance conference featured West African dancers and drummers representing their own or various ethnic backgrounds from Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Congo: Renowned Master Dancers such as Alassane Kane, Idy Ciss, Aziz Faye, Oumou Faye (Senegal), Djeneba Sakho, Ousseynou Kouyate (Mali), Marietou Camara (Guinea) and Vivien Bassouamina featuring Drum Ensemble Loubayi (Congo). Brazilian Samba Master Dancer Nilhina Fonseca also flew in from Bahia. And of course, all of the dance classes taught were accompanied by Master drummers from the regions previously mentioned: Ibou Ngon, Mbor Faye, Thiane Sene (Senegal) and Marcos Rodrigues (Brazil) to name a few. These drummers also offered drum classes in their respective disciplines, mainly djembe and congas. Attendance was high as various participants from the Bay area and Santa Cruz attended and there were also dance students from as far as New Orleans.
Saturday and Sunday respectively ended with performances from local Brazilian band Sambada and Oakland-based West African group Diamano Coura. West African food with vegetarian options was made available to all attendees and there was also African clothing for sale which was showcased on Saturday’s fashion show. A few attendees were able to win airlines tickets to Africa through Ethiopian Airlines who were event donors.
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