Maplewood Presents ‘SANKOFA 2020,’ a Celebration of Black History, on Saturday, Feb. 29

by Maplewood Arts & Culture
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From Maplewood Arts and Culture

Black History Month in Maplewood New Jersey concludes on Saturday, February 29, 2020 with SANKOFA 2020, a Celebration of Black History. The Hand Arts & Edutainment and Ayinde Collective in partnership with Maplewood Department of Community Services and SOMA Entrepreneurs of Color present, a fun-filled family event to celebrate Black History Month. Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee will introduce the event. 

McGehee says, “Maplewood is proud of its robust Black History Program initiated by our former Mayor and current committeeman Vic De Luca and we are excited to have SANKOFA 2020 conclude this year’s programing. The event promises to be an amazing educational and entertaining experience where attendees will enjoy all aspects of black culture, from the arts to music and dance as well as the evolution of black history.” 

Sankofa is a word in the Twi Language of Ghana that means “go back to the past and bring forward that which is useful.” In tribute to this tradition, we honor our past, celebrate our present and envision our future with music, performances, African drumming and dance, pop-up shops and a panel discussion, all inspired by African Diasporic traditions. 

Performances will include Lachaney’s School of Dance, Mira Pertrovah School of Dance and Brooklyn-based band Nubian Messengers with a special screening of their debut short film single release “Sister Space Shifterproduced & directed by NJ’s own journalist, author, now filmmaker, Kevin Powell. Free workshop demonstrations on Kemetic Yoga will be offered as well as an introduction to The Hand A&E Sacred Men’s Drum Council initiatives. SANKOFA 2020 will showcase 20 vendors comprised of small black-owned businesses, artists and artisans. Also at the event, a kickoff for The HAND R.O.P.E. (Rites of Passage) Information Session, an African centered initiative for young men ages 8-12 in the Maplewood/South Orange community. Families will be offered the opportunity to learn more and enroll their boys in what Catherine MBali describes as, “a life-changing program.” 

Melissa Mancuso, Maplewood Department of Community Services Director states, “It is exciting to offer to our community such a well-rounded event rich in Black History that the whole family can enjoy and experience.” 

The Panel Discussion entitled “What is Due? A Case for Reparations” features community resident Dr. Khalil Muhammad and local activist Rhea Mokund-Beck and will allow an opportunity to explore this topic with an emphasis on history as well as exploring a collectively imagined future with the audience. This conversation is curated and moderated by SANKOFA 2020 event producer Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson. 

Event Schedule 

  • 2:00pm – Doors Open 
  • 2:15pm – Mayor Frank McGehee Introduction 
  • 2:30pm – Performance by Bahati Zuboi, Columbia High School Student 
  • 2:45pm – Performance by Lachaney Dance 
  • 3:00pm – The HAND R.O.P.E. (Rites of Passage) Information Session 
  • 3:30pm – Kemetic Yoga Workshop with Queen Mother Imakhu 
  • 4:00pm – Performance by Maria Priadka School of Dance Genies 
  • 4:30pm – Panel Discussion with Dr. Khalil Muhammad 
  • 5:30pm – Sacred Men’s Drum Council Workshop Demonstration 
  • 6:30pm – Performance by Nubian Messengers 

About the Organizers The Ayinde Collective, is an innovative company made up of power couple Brother Kojo Ayinde Johnson and wife Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson. This creative crew is deeply rooted in African tradition which inspires their shared passion for community development. 

Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson producer of SANKOFA 2020 is owner of Catherine Mbali Consulting and Founder and Executive Director of ARTs East New York Inc. (AENY), a non-profit arts organization whose mission is to provide access, affordability and exposure to the arts for the East New York community while using the arts as a tool for social change. Founded in 2009, AENY has served more than 100,000 constituents and raised over 2 million dollars in charitable assets to date. Her innovative and thought- provoking approach to programming has gained the attention of media outlets such as The New York Times, New York Daily News as well as Good Morning America, and garnered support from Pratt Institute, Union Square Awards, and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2015, alongside the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Green spearheaded the opening of the reNew Lots Market and Artist Incubator, a pop-up marketplace and artist incubator located on formerly vacant lots using shipping containers and featuring food and retail from local entrepreneurs, an exhibition space for local artists, and diverse programming and events for community members. 

Brother Kojo Ayinde Johnson, founder of The Hand Arts & Edutainment, is a well respected and sought after educator and arts consultant with over 20 years of experience teaching students about accountability and community through tradition, rhythm, and culture throughout the New York City Department of Education schools system, religious institutions and community organizations. Through this work, “Brother Kojo” as he is affectionately known, has served over 15,000 young people though THA&E’s history beginning in 2007. The Hand Arts & Edutainment is proud to now offer services in communities throughout the State of New Jersey. Kojo Ayinde Johnson is also the musical director and founding member of Nubian Messengers. 

For additional information email or call 347-748-4866 or follow #sankofa2020 

Next up: Rhythm Spark, African Diasporic Cultural Festival by The Hand Arts & Edutainment June 20, 2020 at The Woodland, 60 Woodland Road, Maplewood NJ.

For more information visit 



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