Black History month was launched locally with an evening event at the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives last Wednesday, Feb. 26.
When manager Kimiko Hawkes saw a YouTube video of two Coast performers giving TED talks, she was amazed at their abilities. She quickly invited Valerie Mason-John and Bertha Clark (also known as Adelene da soul poet) to speak at the museum.
Mason-John, recently returned from a Black History presentation in Nova Scotia, kicked off with a powerful monologue as if spoken by a newly freed slave of the 18th century. She also relaunched her award-winning book Borrowed Body, now available in its North American edition.
Jean Pierre Makosso and Yvy Bouti Makosso also presented.
All the performers at the museum event were included in A Tribute to Mandela that gave two shows at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons last weekend.
Makosso adapted several of South African leader Nelson Mandela's speeches, beginning with his words from prison where he was incarcerated for 26 years. Apparently Mandela liked to box, and Makosso used this fighting symbolism to represent the ongoing struggle of the man and of the African National Congress on their path to freedom. The show included energetic African dancing and song.
Mason-John and Clark narrated the historical background while local actors played minor roles to bring the Mandela story to life. The years of hardship turned to celebration as the performers wished an aging Mandela a happy 95th birthday. Celebrity look-alikes from Michael Jackson to the Dalai Lama arrived on stage to give their tribute to the man. The audience joined in the party and danced to the music of a youthful band, Mama's Boys.
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