Last Saturday was our launch event for this Anniversary Season. What a day! Current Baobab Youth, alumnae, Board members, volunteers, families, special guests and the general public gathered to kick off our 20th celebrations. Our new tag line “Connecting with Rhythm” was visible in the special t-shirts designed by Mark Taylor of Friction Creative. They looked fantastic, up close or from a distance! We will be selling them throughout the year at all of our events.
The launch took place in the lovely Somerset Square, and although it was a chilly day, the autumn sun lent an amazing energy to being outside. We are grateful to our sponsors for the event: The Red Apron for delicious pumpkin loaf, Bridgehead Coffee and the West End Well for logistical support at the event. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Board Chair Erica Sher kicked off the celebrations by welcoming everyone and giving a little background to the event. The group played a few pieces, beginning with a Drum Talk that started down the street on Wellington.
Quite a few alumnae were present and helped dance and drum a couple of fave pieces: Gahu and Kpanlogo. Members represented years from 1995 right through to recent grads! So fantastic to have them there. We look forward to seeing more alumnae during our other events, especially the Sankofa weekend June3-4, 2016.
One of the earliest Baobab Youth members, Sarah-Jane Laberge, who started in 1995), spoke of her time with us during her formative years. It was a heartfelt, funny, and poignant speech, moving many people to tears. She talked about the community of individuals in the group that made a difference to her life in many ways. We also heard from Emily Klein, a longtime current member (in her last year with us) who spoke of her passion for this music and dance and the way the music brings joy and energy to her life. It was fantastic to hear from both these women.
As a registered charity, Baobab Community has been fortunate in receiving funding through grants and donations from the City of Ottawa, the Ottawa Community Foundation (Gaia Fund), the Rotary Club, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Representing the Ontario government was the MPP for Ottawa Centre, Mr. Yasir Naqvi, who spoke about his experience in one of our drumming workshops, as well as congratulating us on our success. Federal Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna joined joined us as well for a while in between campaigning for the upcoming election.
This is a special year, and we are grateful to be doing what we love. It has been an amazing adventure from 1995 to now, full of joy, challenges, growth, development, re-thinking, outreach, and connecting with rhythm. We look forward to what is ahead, both in the rest of this year and beyond!
photo credits: Ben Holland, David Farley, Ian Holland and Kerry Gogush Cule