On Sunday, November 17th, Minnesota spoken word artist IBé Kaba brought together artists and community members together to Jambo Africa in Brooklyn Center to introduce people to the African community in the Twin Cities (and African culture). Hopefully, the effort would also help these businesses stay viable. “It’s us doing our part to ensure our community continues to thrive in our new home,” Kaba said.
Kaba explained the idea for the performance by suggesting “We all have accents! It’s our unique fingerprint on our world and how we see it; how we articulate those experiences and how we share them with our community.” The planned line-up featured the artists Chaun Webster, Nimo Hussein Farah, Shahar Eberzon, Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, Marisa Carr, Jamela Pettiford, IBé Kaba, and Little Laos on the Prairie’s Bryan Thao Worra. Leslie Young also came to join the performance.
For Kaba, he felt our accents “permeate every facet of our being. And this is a celebration of our being and our voices that are as unique as the words they speak.”
“It’s a powerful proposition,” said Thao Worra. “Like I often say, when you encounter great art you realize it’s more than just words on a page, paint on a canvas, but souls talking to souls. I’m happy to be a part of this process.” Thao Worra read his poems “Tetragrammaton,” ”Riding the 16,” which previously appeared in the St. Paul Almanac, and “Libertree.”
“I was impressed with the depth and range of the voices IBé brought together,” Thao Worra said. “It’s not often I get to perform with Rodrigo and IBé, especially now that I’m splitting my time between California and Minnesota. But when I do, they always deliver pieces with great heart. Nimo Hussein Farah’s story about the “Titanic Tower” was also a real standout for me. I’m looking forward to seeing more from her. It was the first time I’d seen Chaun Webster’s work, and I can see why IBé wanted him to be a part of the reading.”
“Shahar Eberzon opened the night with a wonderful pair of songs, but she couldn’t stay the whole evening. She set the tone well in the time she had with us,” Thao Worra noted. “Jamela Pettiford offered a powerful combination of song and a call to action to work for positive change in the world. Leslie Young read an excerpt from her book “I’m Raising My Husband,” which covered significant emotional territory with a positive approach to healing and relationships. If you were listening closely, you definitely heard a great range of accents in our community. I hope we see more programs like this in the future. And as always, if IBé Kaba ever asks you to be a part of his projects, say yes. It will be an amazing experience.”
Jambo Africa is located at 6000 Shingle Creek Parkway in Brooklyn Center. The owner, Jojo Ndege, is married to a Lao woman and has a great love for the culture. He hopes Jambo Africa will also serve as a community gathering space for many from all walks of life in the future. It was a packed house for the evening that left many confident Jambo Africa will be a wonderful part of the Minnesota journey for many years to come. Also, be sure to ask for the spicy sauce!