Pamela Twagirayezu, reiki healer

Friday 15 March 2024

The Echoes of the Motherland: Black Out Loud Volume II

by Olivia Barrett, Editorial Associate

In the second edition of The Echoes of the Motherland: Black Out Loud, attendees were treated to a night full of cultural expression through music, art and food.

Hosted at The Atelier at Saint Paul University on March. 15, The Echoes of the Motherland: Black Out Loud Volume II welcomed guests into an evening celebrating the cultures of the African diaspora in the city. For Diana Official, the event’s organizer, a central focus on the night was the preservation of these cultures and traditions. “We aim to foster understanding, appreciation, and connection within the community while also addressing important issues such as sustainability and cultural preservation,” Official said, explaining that The Echoes of the Motherland gave artists and entrepreneurs a space to showcase their talents and share their stories.

Painting by Félicité Tambaud

As attendees entered The Atelier, they were welcomed by a series of paintings by Félicité Tambaud. These paintings depicted women of various backgrounds in new ways, such as her painting Via Crusis, which is the “feminine version of Christ,” according to its description.

Charifa Labarang with her art installation, The Cost of Buying

In addition to Tambaud’s paintings, attendees could also explore Charifa Labarang’s art installation, The Cost of Buying. “I want people to think a little bit more or to close the gap between raw materials and the final product,” she said, explaining that she wanted viewers to get the impression that they are in a store, which is why each item had a price tag on it.

Each item in the exhibit was made out of recycled materials and had a tag that mimicked a price tag. Labarang included QR codes on these tags that led to documentaries about several environmental issues related to consumerism, such as the truth of sustainable fashion brands and the cobalt trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“If you entered the Apple Store and instead of pure whiteness and beauty and perfection, you saw pictures of kids in mines. Would you still want to buy the item,” she said, explaining that this exhibit was designed to make consumers think about the people and conditions involved in creating a product before purchasing it.

Saxophonist Jacobs Adebayo

The musical portion of the event began with Jacobs Adebayo. He quickly gained the audience’s attention with the enchanting sounds of his saxophone. After this opening performance, Pamela Twagirayezu, a reiki healer, treated the audience to a sound bath. She told the audience the sound bath was an “opportunity to go a little deeper” to connect with themselves. Through a variety of calming sounds from several different instruments, such as a rain stick and chimes, Twagirayezu led the audience through breathing exercises.

As Twagirayezu encouraged the audience to take the opportunity to reconnect with themselves, the room fell silent as attendees soaked in the south bath.

Éric Topzo, drummer and poet

Following Twagirayezu’s sound bath, Éric Topzo reminded the audience of the event’s theme through his drumming and poetry. Topzo said his poem focused on “reminding us of who we are,” a fitting poem at the event which put reconnecting with your roots at its core.

Siaka Diabaté Band

After these performances, the diverse sounds of the Siaka Diabaté Band took centre stage. The band enchanted the audience with their fusion of African traditions and contemporary music.

Siaka Diabaté’s playing of the kora, a stringed instrument used predominately in West Africa, was featured prominently, with the cello, flute and drums complementing it in each song. Despite each having their own distinct sound, these instruments created a beautiful harmony that had the audience dancing along in their chairs, even some on their feet.

Diabaté has been surrounded by music his whole life, making his artistic debut in 2011 when he toured in Burkina Faso and surrounding countries. Since moving to Ottawa in 2022, Diabaté has continued to enrich the music scene in the city through the fusion of African traditions and new musical experiences.

The band’s unique West African sound closed out the night as attendees were treated to an encore while eating Ivorian-Canadian cuisine.

While the event had many fusion aspects, the theme of reconnecting was front and centre through the music, the art and the food.