Dignity matters. Let’s Elevate each other.
At AFS, we believe in Dignity for all, and we choose to promote and cultivate Friendship. Together, we CAN create the world we all want to live in. We contribute by committing to cultural education for all and the restoration of the real History of Humanity. We contribute by elevating the conversation about African heritage and Black identity. We offer African cultural programs for children, women and the village, with an intention to empower each other and create a culture of Joy and Friendship in our communities. All our programs are in alignment with our African values and traditions.
Our goal is to provide a welcoming platform for Healing and Joy, and cultivate Belonging.
We Empower, Educate and Entertain.
Together, let’s take a journey of Joy, Belonging and Celebration.
The African Friendship Society was founded by African artist Jacky Essombe, after performing and running community programs for Canadians, Canadian immigrants of African descent and others for two decades.
The Society was incorporated in 2017 with the mandate to facilitate the growth of African arts outreach in the community, to coordinate community engagement initiatives, and help heal, unite and build self-esteem and empowerment within the diverse Black and African communities through positive cultural identification. We promise: True Friendship, Nourishing Connections, and A Deep Sense of Belonging to help people break the habit of living disconnected.
who we are
Our mandate is to educate while entertaining, cultivate unity, promote mental and emotional well-being for all, nurture social inclusion and community engagement through African arts, and help build self-esteem and empowerment within the Black/African community through positive cultural identification.
Our mission is to spread joy, promote friendship, celebrate our heritage and educate about the human values, richness and inclusive diversity of African cultures and traditions through artistic, social and cultural projects, events, workshops, festivals and activities.
Heritage and cultural identity
Inter-connectedness, care and collective responsibility
Respect and Dignity for everyone
Unity and Empowerment
Our goal is to restore, preserve and transmit traditional knowledge & wisdom.
The African community and its youth deserve to celebrate and share their cultural heritage in a way that is safe and empowering for everyone, and in a way that promotes friendship with all and fosters unity around a shared cultural identity within the BC Black and African communities.
Using the arts, we want to reaffirm and restore cultural dignity for the African youth, increase their confidence, wellbeing, and sense of pride. We also want all children, regardless of cultural background, to learn more about Africa and its real story, in order to counteract the harmful clichés that most of them have already been imprinted with at a young age.
All Canadians deserve to experience the real story of Africa and its people without prejudice or discrimination. That is how we can truly come together in real friendship, based on mutual respect and appreciation. We have been offering Community Engagement programs for 6 years, and we deliver free or highly subsidized programming in African arts and cultural activities to over 750 people annually.
In everything we do, we immerse our participants in the “Spirit of the Village,” a way of being that prioritizes interconnectedness, friendship, and care for one another, and is a powerful antidote to social isolation. We do this by sharing the arts, cultures, and history of Africa; and by building a village that directly addresses the immediate needs of the community.
With all our programs, we create opportunities to learn to embrace each other so that we can all grow together, in real Friendship, and say “Sawubona” to each other, which is a Zulu greeting that means “I see You, I see your Soul”.
TODAY'S CHALLENGES ARE INSPIRInG US ALL
Although more than 1.2 million Black people live in Canada today, a majority are disconnected from their African Heritage. In addition, institutions of learning struggle with creating culturally responsive learning environments that reflect our growing demographic.
When Africa is introduced in many academic settings, instruction is often focused on Ancient Egypt or the continent’s natural resources and geography. As a result, many young children have a notion that African countries are underdeveloped and their significant contributions to the world ended over 5000 years ago.
When cultural identity and heritage are stripped away in this fashion, it promotes the feeling that heritage and culture are insignificant. This is especially true if other cultural identities are presented and shared.
As an organisation, we choose to respond to acts of racisim and discrimination by cultivating friendships. Our programs are created to bring people together in mutual respect, and immerse our participants in the “Spirit of the Village,” a way of being that prioritises interconnectedness, friendship, and care for one another.
We accomplish this by transmitting traditional knowledge and wisdom to Black children; by sharing the arts, cultures, and history of Africa with everyone; and by building a village that directly addresses the immediate needs of the community.
UNLOCKING THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT OF THE VILLAGE
AFS programs are created to immerse our participants in the “Spirit of the Village,” a way of being that prioritizes interconnectedness, friendship, and care for one another and is a powerful antidote to social isolation, especially in environments where Black or African culture is underrepresented.
Our mandate is about sharing the arts, cultures, and history of Africa, and building a village that directly addresses the immediate needs of the community.
We are focused on this mandate because we believe that cultivating friendship with one another and experiencing Africa through arts and culture promotes inclusion and wellbeing, and an increased awareness and understanding of cultural diversity. It is with the partnership of our community elders, artists, and knowledge keepers within and outside the African Friendship Society community that we are able to deliver this knowledge and create this AFS community.
This is the power of the Spirit of the Village - genuinely caring for one another and bringing our unique strengths together to empower, educate, entertain and build community.
True Friendship, Nourishing Connections and A Deep Sense of Belonging.
To help people break the habit of living disconnected.
Our ENERGETIC Mission
To leave people feeling deeply nourished and with a true sense of belonging.
How? By empowering men, women and children to be present, connected and alive.
Leaving a footprint of simple, engaging and life changing values and beliefs that empower people to live
a life of deep connection and true joy.
We we make life better because we
wholeheartedly believe in:
Humanity as a state of being.
Greatness is a choice and a commitment.
It's always possible to do the right thing.