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 African Burial Grounds Ceremony 2005

 Date: 10.03.05   


Saturday October 1, the second of the three-day Annual African Burial Ground Tribute took place at the memorial site at Duane & Elk Streets in lower Manhattan.  For the Ancestors reverently interred, it was a beautiful day as their memory and sacrifice were honored and celebrated above ground.




The Musart Steel Drum Band from Brooklyn

Of the many artists present to celebrate the lives of the Ancestors, Brooklyn's Musart Steel Drum Band did so in music on the steelpan instrument.  One of the show's co-ordinators, Eli Fountain spoke of the innovations of African people, moving from the story of how the trapset (modern day drumkit) was invented, to Africans deciding to utilize the drums, discarded by the colonialists, but seized by Africans for use as musical instruments.

Led by Lyndon Achee, the youngsters of Musart Steel Drum Band hail from PS 61 and also appeared at last year's tribute to the Ancestors.  Their representation was relegated strictly to the steelpan at that time. 


Lyndon Achee on stage with the Musart Steel Drum Band

This year the pan contingent of the ensemble was somewhat smaller, though with more instruments in the mix; they were joined by additional  musicians on trumpet, drums and keyboard.  Leader Lyndon Achee presented a jazzy interlude after the students performed.



Kevin Tarrant leading prayer session



Commemorative activities which began after ten in the morning and continued into the evening included drumming, ecumenical prayer and music, singing and dancing. 




The SilverCloud Singers


Those taking part in the ecumenical services included the intertribal Native American group the SilverCloud Singers.  They actually contributed what can be described no less than complete homage to the African Ancestors. 


Kevin Tarrant's daughter in flight


Within two sessions in the early part of the program, in addition to prayers, attendees witnessed drumming, songs, and a dance from lead singer Kevin Tarrant's daughter from the SilverCloud group.



Reverend Herbert Daughtry taking part in the ecumenical services at the Annual African Burial Ground Tribute


Reverend Herbert Daughtry from Brooklyn's House of the Lord Church also played a key role in the ecumenical services.  He was introduced by event co-ordinator James Stovall who himself was Director-Conductor of one of the two choirs performing.



The African Burial Ground Tribute Chorale

For 2004 the larger Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble appeared at the memorial site.  This time around, singers from that same group focused on the current celebration and performed under the sobriquet - African Burial Ground Tribute Chorale.   They were conducted by James Stovall.


Seth Asare, (left) and Kwame Yeboa. (right)


Further along in the program, libations were offered by the Ghanaian representatives including Seth Asare and Kwame Yeboa.  The latter took time to explain the ceremonial aspects of what he was doing as he symbolically re-dedicated the memorial site.



Wesley Snipes (in white) with family members in tow, including children

Not all expected artists/speakers appeared; those listed on the program but missing from the line-up included Phylicia Rashad, Taye Diggs, and Wyclef Jean.  Arriving with no fanfare and with his family was actor Wesley Snipes.  Preferring to keep a low profile and before returning to his seat, Preferring to keep a low profile and before returning to his seat, Snipes did say that he was there not to speak or to teach, "but to pay homage and learn."


The African Diasporan Drummers

Tributes were also forthcoming from others such as the African Diasporan Drummers, the Eleanor Roosevelt Intermediate School  - IS 143 Concert Choir, the McCollough Invaders from Harlem's United House of Prayer for All People, the Garifuna Dance Company, Abada-Capoeira NYC, African fusion world music singer - Ka´ssa from Cameroun, and the Ileana Santamaria Orchestra,  featuring Cuban vocalist Lleana Santamaria, daughter of the late internationally renowned Cuban drummer Ramˇn 'Mongo' Santamaria.


Lleana Santamaria on stage

World music artist Ka´ssa

The Garifuna Dance Company

Luz Soliz, director and choreographer for the Garifuna Dance Company shared some fascinating history with attendees.  The explanation of the roots of the Garifuna people would have been eye-opening for many, including the fact that though they are now geographically from Central America, they were originally from St. Vincent and The Grenadines in the Caribbean - long before Christopher Columbus sailed to the "Americas."  Soliz proudly documented that pre-Columbus presence of African peoples in the area now referred to as the Caribbean, adding that the colonial powers, including the British, had taken a fancy to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which led to the Garifuna's forced relocation to Central America,  where they remain until today.


Junior members of the McCollough Invaders Brass ensemble hold their own, to the delight of the crowd



The two most junior members of the McCollough Invaders literally stole the hearts of the crowd, as they held their own with the adults of their band, each in command of his own trombone.


Ka´ssa left the stage, and got the audience - including Howard Dodson - involved


Members of the audience were wooed into dancing by both Lleana Santamaria and Ka´ssa.  The latter closed the show, but not before enticing onlookers into a more active role of spiritual abandonment during her performance, including chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - Howard Dodson - and others.


The African Burial Ground:  Second Annual Celebration of the Ancestral Heritage
 - Saturday October 1 - In Pictures

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