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Passport to Africa: Your Itinerary Awaits

By Jamati- Interview by Shirlene Alusa-Brown

Seward B. Cooper of I Dream Of Africa (IDOA) Entertainment shares the reason for the trip

Africa is a dynamic continent with diverse peoples, rhythms, vibrant activity, sensual spices and an immensely rich culture. IDOA Entertainment is dedicated to sharing and highlighting the best parts of Africa with the Diaspora and they have succeeded in providing this experience through their highly successful event 'Passport To Africa'! Passport To Africa is a week long journey through the things that make Africa special. One gets to experience the culture of various African countries through their food, art, poetry, fashion, and music.

Jamati was privileged to interview Seward B. Cooper to learn more about this wonderful event.

Jamati: What was the impetus for starting IDOA?

We wanted to provide quality, upscale entertainment from Africa that celebrated our diverse backgrounds and reflected a creative, classy and professional face of Africa. At the time, there also seemed to be a lack of events catering to Africa and friends of Africa, so we decided to fill that void.

Jamati: What was the first event that you held?

The first event we had was the African High Life I. We found that when we went to African parties they didn't play a lot of African music so we decided to do an event that played at least 40% African music and allowed us to celebrate and party to our own music. We started to give exposure to African artists and hired DJ's who were well versed in Zouk, Soukous, Calypso, High Life, and other African music. We came up with intriguing titles to generate interest like Afrique n' U, which was a double entendre, African Fourplay had 4 elements which included comedian, Michael Blackson, at Zanzibar, and Osei the Dark Secret formerly of WKYS, a contemporary band, and ended with a party.

Jamati: I take it, this was the lead-in to Passport To Africa?

We wanted to do something grander; something that encompassed more of the culture. We decided to do Passport To Africa to highlight as much of Africa as possible. In order to highlight a large cross section of Africa we decided to do it over 7 days. Many Africans wanted something that celebrated their culture and gave them something to be proud of.

The media doesn't really focus on the positive things that Africans are doing in the United States and we felt that there was a need to continue to expose Diaspora Africans to their culture so that they can experience it and, maybe develop an interest in going back, or giving back, to help Africa.

Passport To Africa showcases African artists and helps uplift them. Furthermore, we make every effort to ensure that the majority of the businesses that participate in Passport To Africa are African-owned. Its just another way to support one another.

Jamati: The names for the events are unique. Who names the events?

We (the IDOA team) all do. We are fortunate to have a very creative team who are visionaries and not afraid to think outside the box. Therefore, we strive to make every event better than the last.

Jamati: What are some of the things we can look forward to at this year's Passport To Africa?

Well the event is kicking off with a brunch at Zanzibar with live music. During the rest of the week, there will be a South African wine tasting, a jollof rice demonstration, and a panel discussion with DC public school children to share information and answer questions about Africa. We will also have a fashion trunk show, featuring African designers of clothes and jewelry. There's even a African make-up line that will be highlighted. A poetry event and music by some up and coming African artists will be a part of the week. Everything culminates with the Third Annual Ultra White Party that we are doing in collaboration with BCBG Productions.

Jamati: It sounds like it is going to be a phenomenal event!

It is! We are grateful to all of our sponsors and community partners, including several African Student Associations, African Embassies and a host of other partners. We would especially like to thank Mayor Adrian Fenty and the DC Office of African Affairs for their continued support of Africans in Washington, D.C. Of course, I would like to thank the entire Jamati team. You have been a great support and we applaud Jamati for what you are doing in the African entertainment community!

For more information about Passport to Africa please visit their http://www.passporttoafrica.com/


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