Take back the truth

UNGANISHA was born with the intent of celebrating and sustaining the presence of African diasporic communities in Calgary. UNGANISHA, a Swahili word for “connection,” invites all to share, learn and connect through the beauty and diversity of African arts and culture.




Production

UNGANISHA: Explore. Connect. Dance. is an annual dance theatre show that brings together dance genres with roots in the culturally diverse continent of Africa. The high-impact large-scale performance explores African diaspora throughout Western colonial expansion and its influence on several modes of modern dance. Dance, music, theatre, film and history meet to demystify dance roots and shine a light on the seeds of culture.

The dance theatre production invites Albertans to celebrate Black History Month by recognizing the presence and ongoing cultural contributions of thriving African Canadian communities.

Unganisha is a multicultural dance show that is part of Black History Month.

contest

UNGANISHA Short Story Writing

Contest

On July 5, 2019, UNGANISHA conducted an exciting new contest inviting members from the African and Caribbean communities in Calgary to a short story contest. With the theme of the 2020 production being “discovery,” the prompt yielded marvelous results from 17 writers. The winner, Chinemerem Oluchi Agbasi, had her promising story translated into a stage play, Girl Discovered, and received a $1,000 prize. Agbasi’s story was the foundation of the script for UNGANISHA’s 2020 dance theatre production. This dance theatre production strives to represent the people of African or Caribbean descent and the unique stories they wish to tell. Yielding successful results from last year, UNGANISHA is pleased to announce our 2020 Short Story Writing Competition! As part of our community engagement initiatives, we are inviting the community to co-develop the script for the UNGANISHA: Explore. Connect. Dance. 2021 dance theatre production. This competition is intended for original short stories. Individuals are welcome to submit folklore or fiction inspired by their culture or lived experiences centered around the theme of “Rebirth”.

The open invitation allows us to acknowledge and celebrate the many faces within the African and Caribbean diaspora by giving each of the distinct community associations an opportunity to promote their uniqueness within a broader network. The familiar Calgarian mantra of s standing “stronger together” rings true with this project as we introduce the city to a new collection of emerging writers and diverse voices to enrich our local community.

Uncovering

Dance History

Dance has been an important means of social communication, ritual, celebration and entertainment since before the earliest human civilizations. The origins of dance are layered as it seldom leaves identifiable artifacts; it asks performers and audiences to experience it in the moment. Before modern forms of archival, communities and cultures relied on oral histories and embodied traditions to retain dance knowledge. Each culture developed their own dance styles, but with every migration and intercultural exchange styles evolved and adapted with and from one another.To celebrate Black History Month in Calgary, UNGANISHA highlights the cultural interactions that created mainstream dance styles influenced by African traditions, exploring the historical contexts of colonialism and slavery tied to them.The event intentionally takes an inclusive, multicultural approach, focusing on the creative possibilities that emerge when different peoples, cultures and artistic traditions intermingle.

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Networking

UPNM

UNGANISHA Professional Networking Mixer (UPNM) is an event that fosters and facilitates collaboration between industry professionals, academic institutions and other professional bodies. Individuals in arts and professional services stationed locally and abroad are given an opportunity to network and socialize in a comfortable setting while being empowered in their cultural identities. Entrepreneurs, businesses experts and creatives circulate through a series of expeditious rounds to break the ice and connect. The relaxed environment encourages successful individuals to speak candidly and one-on-one to make authentic personal connections. Participants can expect to venture outside of typical networking norms for a cultural experience with a plethora of diasporic professionals.

Our first presentation of UPNM in January 25, 2020 was a sold-out event with a gathering of 140 professionals and 15 students from the various universities in Calgary. We had 22 Black owned businesses in various sectors ranging from arts and entertainment, business and marketing, beauty and cosmetics, fashion and design, media and photography and restaurant services in attendance. The businesses generously donated $3080 worth of their services as door prizes to the guests which were accompanied by a brief description of their services read by the host as a means of business spotlighting. An engaging panel discussion on the topic of “Building Alliance for Excellence” featuring Michèle Moss, Charles Osuji, Dr. Samuel Iwar and Akolisa Ufodike concluded with anonymous question and answer period via an app. The evening showcased local Black talent including a spoken word artist and keyboardist pairing by Priscille & Zenas Bukasa, singer Jared Tobias Herring and dancers from Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre Inc amongst an array of authentic African and Caribbean food from local restaurants. With UPNM, Woezo Africa continues to advance our mission of reducing the career achievement gap for professionals of color by providing them access to resources and opportunities to advance their goals and form collaborative networks.

UNGANISHA Event Calendar
UNGANISHA’s Event Calendar is free for non-profit organizations and the 40+ African and Caribbean community associations in Calgary. The calendar provides upcoming events catered to individuals with an interest in the African diaspora. Arts organizations, non-profits, community groups, event organizers and other members of the community with an interest in conveying the powerful presence of African people in Calgary are welcome to submit their event listing information to the link below. We believe that face-to-face social interaction in a safe space generates positive interactions. Communities of color impacted by the complex realities of discrimination and racism wishing to locate supportive spaces, platforms and programming can do so through our growing social hub. Whether you’re seeking to provide educational resources, spotlight local talent, or promote scholarship, we hope to unite to cultivate events with a purpose.
Post event

Educating the masses

We are the community we serve. Woezo Africa believes that at the core of sustainable communities is culture. In addition to highlighting African artistic traditions to promote diversity, Woezo Africa intends to develop social capital by forming safe spaces, cultivating interpersonal bonds and encouraging inclusivity.

UNGANISHA Diaspora and Community Engagement (UDCE) Steering Committee Team Members

Our Team

Wunmi Idowu

Chair, UDCE Committee

Nigel Dabreo

Member

Nikita Kalonji

Member

Aissatou Thiam

Member

Anjola Adeboye

Member

Nicole Colley

Member

Jayann Anthony

Member

Natacha Pierre Pierre

Member

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UNGANISHA Diaspora and Community Engagement (UDCE) Project

The UNGANISHA Diaspora and Community Engagement (UDCE) Project is a multi-faceted action plan during which members from 40+ Calgary's African and Caribbean community associations are invited to participate in cross-cultural activities and initiatives that foster greater intercultural understanding, empathy and inclusion. Supporting our African and Caribbean community begins with amplifying our collaborative efforts. We are honoured to provide the non-exhaustive list below of Black-led and Black serving organizations in our community that are paving the way for systemic change.

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