Balboa Park’s WorldBeat Cultural Center hosted the eagerly anticipated Taste of Africa event on Saturday, October 21st, from 2 PM to 8 PM. Last year’s edition of this event was a spectacular success, and it returned with even more excitement, promising a day filled with the vibrant colors, captivating rhythms, and mouthwatering flavors of Africa.
In 2021, the event was a resounding triumph, bringing together African families adorned in their traditional garments, a diverse selection of restaurants offering a culinary journey across the continent, and mesmerizing performances that ranged from Senegal to Zimbabwe. Attendees delighted in delectable dishes infused with the rich and traditional spices and flavors of Africa, with a standout being the enchanting Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
The beats of the drums, the melodies of the kora, bolofone, and the captivating performances by singers and dancers united a diverse array of cultures and created an atmosphere of harmony and celebration.
This year, the WorldBeat Center once again opened its doors to celebrate peace and unity, echoing its enduring commitment to embracing the shared humanity that music, art, dance, culture, and food exemplify. The kora, a magical instrument that enchants all who hear it, was a symbol of this unity.
Visitors had the opportunity to embark on a culinary journey through Africa, savoring authentic and delicious food from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Liberia. Additionally, they could explore African wines from Ethiopia and Nigeria. Each vendor offered their unique creations, allowing attendees to savor a wide range of flavors and specialties.
The event featured outstanding African entertainers, including the talented Akayaa Atule and Bolga Zohdoomah. Akayaa, who hails from Ghana, has been sharing her expertise in African Dance with schools and events throughout San Diego County. She is known for her remarkable jollof rice, a dish that’s not to be missed.
Eyo, the Stilt Walker, made a captivating appearance, representing the tall spirit and embodying the traditions of mask dance rituals from West Africa. This spiritual masquerade brings blessings of good luck, peace, prosperity, and balance to nature and the community. As a symbol of the ancestral spirit, Eyo remains anonymous, adding an air of mystery and tradition to the event.
The Djelia Kadi West African Drum & Dance Ensemble, led by master drummer Dramane Kone from Burkina Faso, graced the stage with their sensational performance. Kone, a world-class djembefola and balafon player, has a rich background in African music and dance. His group, Djelia Kadi, has gained recognition for their compelling rhythms and melodies.
Sene Africa, a group with a longstanding presence at the WorldBeat Center and the Center for World Music, captivated the audience with their music. Featuring the captivating voice of Ibrahima Ba and the mystical sound of the kora from Amadou Fall, Sene Africa delivered an unforgettable experience.
The event also offered a taste of Ethiopian culture with an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, the opportunity to experience Kemetic yoga, an afro-beat dance workshop, and an exciting jollof rice contest. Judges evaluated dishes based on various criteria, including taste, texture, color, aroma, spice level, balance of ingredients, and overall presentation.
Taste of Africa 2022 was an extraordinary celebration of African culture, unity, and the rich tapestry of flavors, rhythms, and traditions that make the continent so captivating. As the sun set over Balboa Park, the echoes of this memorable event continued to resonate, leaving attendees eagerly anticipating the next Taste of Africa.